Eiffel Tower With Big Cowboy Hat
In a state of towering oil derricks and spidery drill platforms*, passersby do a double-take when they drive by the civic center in the Texas town of Paris. It's not just that dark metal replica Eiffel Tower -- it's the fact that it is adorned with a giant cowboy hat.
But then, if you were Paris, Texas, what would you have done?
There are fifteen American municipalities named "Paris," and more than a few have chosen to erect Eiffel Tower replicas to pay homage to their French namesake.
Both Paris of Texas and Paris of Tennessee dedicated their Eiffel Tower replicas in 1993: Tennessee's was built at Christian Brothers University (in Memphis) and was 60 feet tall, Texas's was built by a local iron worker's union and was 65 feet tall. But when Tennessee moved its tower to Paris it asserted its dominance by adding another ten feet -- looking down on Texas at 70 feet tall.
Paris, Texas, was left in the faux-foreign architecture dust. Its claim to be the "Second Largest Paris in the World," and the inspiration for the title of the 1984 movie Paris, Texas, rang hollow. So in 1998 town boosters added a large red cowboy hat to the tip of the tower, tilted to push a few extra feet into the lower atmosphere.
Many decried this as the dumbest idea ever, but to us it seemed in the spirit of other local attractions: a grave monument with Jesus in cowboy boots and a junior college entrance decorated with a statue of their cartoon dragon mascot.
Turns out the cowboy hat idea came just in time. The following year, in 1999, Las Vegas humbled all the little Paris's when it erected a 540-foot-tall Eiffel Tower replica along the Strip. At half the height of the original (which is 984 feet tall), this Eiffel Tower is nearly ten times taller than the other replicas.
But no hat.
*One of our readers noted that there are "no oil platforms or drilling rigs in or around the city of Paris, Texas. Paris is County Seat of Lamar County, which is one of only three counties in Texas that produces no oil or gas." Then reader Herb Campbell wrote in: "Actually there is an oil derrick in this town, although there is no oil. The derrick is at Gene's Flea Market on North Loop 286. It was moved here by the owner from an oil field in East Texas."