The idea of installing an obnoxiously prodigious pachyderm in the middle of downtown Paris traffic came about as the result of a design competition in 1758. The designer, one Charles Ribart, conceived the L'Elephant Triomphal: Grand Kiosque A La Gloire Du Roi as a three-story, zoomorphic structure where fancy banquets and balls could be held within the belly of the beast, like a chichi version of the rhino scene from Ace Ventura 2. The "Triumphant Elephant" would have been equipped with hi-tech innovations such as air-conditioning, wall-folding furniture, and a drainage system in the trunk, "from which water would gush out into a decorative trough."
"Decorative troughs" having been previously enjoyed only by the wealthiest of French livestock.
Sadly, the French government declined to turn the city center into a sumptuous facsimile of a Ringling Bros. parade, opting instead to go with the monument we know today. Napoleon did attempt to build a giant bronze elephant on the ruins of the Bastille, but the project didn't prosper. Yet Ribart's vision lives on to this day, and his dream of a gargantuan, peanut-loving quadruped-inspired structure may have been most effectively realized in ... New Jersey. Just south of Atlantic City is where architecture enthusiasts can come to find Lucy The Elephant, a six-story leviathan made of wood and tin sheeting, created to "sell real estate and attract tourists" to the Garden State. So, the exact opposite of "honoring dead soldiers" in terms of admirableness.
Michael Thomas Benson
Sure, the French might think it's gauche, but at least we got ours fucking built.