We just observed on May 15 the 120th anniversary of the opening of the Eiffel Tower. This event was a bigger deal in Paris than elsewhere, but it's worth a moment's reflection no matter where you are, particularly in light of the subject matter of the editorial above.

Nobody, perhaps not even Gustave Eiffel himself, could have predicted in 1889 that this structure would become one of the pre-eminent urban and national icons of the modern age. Nothing says "Paris" or "France" like the Eiffel Tower.

Unlike so many other iconic structures, it is a monument to nothing. It commemorates no battle, honors no hero. It was not built as a place of worship or public events. It was, as its early critics pointed out, useless -- at least until Eiffel put a radio antenna on the top.

But it came to be regarded, as a later observer put it, as "useless and irreplaceable." In short, a work of art.

This irreplaceable thing is visited by 6 million of us a year and gazed upon by countless more, and that is one of the reasons why we're all in this business.

In fact, it's one of the best reasons.

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