The Eiffel Tower opened on this day in 1889. (In French it’s “La Tour Eiffel,” also called “the iron lady.”) One of the most recognizable structures in the world, the Eiffel Tower has become a global cultural icon of France. The tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the structural iron tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair. (It was going to be dismantled later, since part of the original contest rules for designing a tower was that it could be easily demolished, but the City of Paris decided to keep it.)
The tallest structure in Paris, the Eiffel tower stands 1,063 ft. tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. However, due to the 1957 addition of an antenna atop the Eiffel Tower, it is once again taller than the Chrysler Building.
The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or elevator, to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by elevator. Both the first and second levels feature restaurants. When it was first built, many people thought it was an eyesore. (Novelist Guy de Maupassant—who claimed to hate the tower—supposedly ate lunch in the Eiffel Tower’s restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where he could not see the structure.) Today, the tower is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.
Click here for a virtual tour: http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/
Click on the above link and zoom in as close as you can. You will notice that on the sides of the Eiffel Tower are engraved the names of French scientists and engineers. Gustave Eiffel did this to acknowledge their contributions. There are 72 names in total. Click here to see a list of their names and learn about these scientists.
Did You Know…? Upon the German occupation of Paris in 1940, the elevator cables were cut by the French. Hitler stayed on the ground rather than climbing the steps to the summit. It was said that “Hitler conquered France, but did not conquer the Eiffel Tower.”
The Eiffel Tower makes for a fascinating study in architecture and metalwork, as well as science and history. Research it on the internet and see what else you can find out!