Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Sierra, GOOD, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, including in the book The Future of Transportation.
Paris' greatest tourist draw gets a new, heart-stopping feature.
The Eiffel Tower may have been the first city observation tower in the modern world, but it's only now hopping on a related tourist bandwagon: The vertiginous glass floor.
As of yesterday, visitors can now peer down through four sections of heavy glass on the tower's first level for a view of foot traffic 187 feet below.
It's not a new view; the first floor is donut-shaped, and has in the past allowed the curious to peer down through heavy fencing. It's also not an especially interesting view, compared to the vast cityscapes offered by glass decks at London's The Shard or Chicago's Willis Tower. But the feature is part of a larger $38.4 million renovation of the premier étage that, as CNN reports, Mayor Anne Hidalgo hopes will help return some sparkle to the infamously tourist-unfriendly city.
"I hear that Paris has lost its shine and attractiveness," she reportedly said at the floor's ribbon-cutting. "It's not true."
For their part, tourists seemed giddy and nervous of tumbling through the reinforced glass plates. "It's like jumping into the void," a contemplative Spaniard told The Guardian.
Hopefully no one's jumping too hard. An adrenaline rush may be a great tourist draw, but as those running the observation deck at the Willis Tower learned in May, there's nothing like a cracked glass ledge 1,300 feet in the air to promptly spook tourists away.