If you’re asked about a giant gaudy tower designed primarily to catch people’s eye, situated in the middle of one of America’s most prominent cities, what comes to mind? Well, the Tower of Jewels, of course.
The tower was designed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exhibition, which was held in San Francisco. The city arranged to host the World’s Fair event in celebration of the completion of the Panama Canal, but also as a way to show to the world how effective its reconstruction efforts had been after the 1906 earthquake.
The tower was 435 feet tall with a connected triumphal arch, and was crafted with decorative trim and recesses to give it a modern appearance. Most noticeable, however, were the “jewels” which gave the tower its name.
More than 100,000 cut-glass “jewels” were created to adorn the sides of the tower, which glimmered from all angles during the day. At night, dozens of spotlights were trained on the tower to reproduce the glistening effect.
The display worked. It was discussed in cities across the world, and San Francisco regained its reputation as a destination city for trade and travel. Unfortunately for the tower, it was not constructed from metal, as was the Eiffel Tower; it was created with wood, plaster and fiber and was torn down following the exhibition.
Fans and San Franciscans were given a chance to be part of the city’s history when it was taken down. The individual gems were offered for sale to anyone wishing to retain a link to the transitory but aggressively flashy landmark.
Question of the night: What’s your favorite tourist trap?