The Eiffel Tower, known as “La Tour Eiffel” in French, is one of the most iconic landmarks not only in Paris, France, but also globally. Its iron lattice structure has become synonymous with the city of Paris, often referred to as “The City of Light.”
Design and Construction
Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, the Eiffel Tower was constructed between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, a World Fair to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Its design was chosen among over 100 proposals submitted for the competition. The team of engineers behind its creation included Emile Nouguier, Maurice Koechlin, and architect Stephen Sauvestre, who added the signature arches at the top.
The Eiffel Tower is primarily made of wrought iron, a choice that was quite revolutionary for the time and it was the highest man-made structure in the world until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930. Over 18,000 individual iron pieces were used in its construction, held together by over 2.5 million rivets. Incredibly, only one worker died during construction, a testament to the safety precautions of the time.
Height and Structure
So how tall is the Eiffel Tower? It stands at an impressive height of approximately 330 meters (1,083 feet) including its antennas, equivalent to an 81-story building. Originally, it was 300 meters (984 feet) tall, but the addition of broadcasting antennas later increased its height. These measurements make it the tallest structure in Paris and one of the most recognized structures in the world.
The Eiffel Tower has three levels that are accessible to the public. The first and second levels house restaurants and shops, while the third level, the summit, is primarily an observation deck that offers a stunning panoramic view of Paris.
Interesting Facts and Curiosities
The Eiffel Tower is not just an architectural marvel; it’s also an engineering feat. To protect it from wind forces, Eiffel used graphical methods to determine the tower’s curved shape. The tower also expands and contracts depending on the temperature. On hot summer days, the iron can expand, causing the tower to grow by as much as 17 centimeters (around 7 inches)!
Eiffel had a small apartment built for himself at the top of the tower. This apartment is now open to the public and houses wax figures of Gustave Eiffel and Thomas Edison.
During World War I, the Eiffel Tower played a crucial role as a radio transmission tower. It intercepted enemy messages and transmitted crucial communications, which helped in the capture of the infamous spy Mata Hari.
Despite initial public criticism and outrage at the audacious design, calling it an eyesore and un-French, the Eiffel Tower quickly gained acceptance and admiration after it was completed. It became a source of national pride and a symbol of French engineering prowess. Now, it’s hard to imagine Paris without its iconic Eiffel Tower.
Q: Can you climb the Eiffel Tower by foot?
A: Yes, you can climb by stairs up to the second floor, which is 704 steps. Beyond that, access to the top floor is by elevator only.
Q: How many people visit the Eiffel Tower each year?
A: Pre-pandemic, the Eiffel Tower was visited by nearly 7 million people each year, making it the most-visited paid monument in the world.
Q: Is the Eiffel Tower illuminated at night?