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Facts About the Eiffel Tower

Kevin Mathias Oct 07, 2020
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, nicknamed 'The Iron Lady', is considered to be the most paid visited monument in the world. Though there is no doubt regarding the popularity of this iconic edifice. There do exist some facts about the Eiffel Tower which continue to intrigue the minds of people worldwide.

Did you know?

Erika La Tour Eiffel, an ex-U.S. military officer, is married to the Eiffel Tower. She apparently suffers from a condition called 'Object Sexuality', wherein a person transfers his/her romantic and emotional desires onto an inanimate object.

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It is highly unlikely that we would come across someone who does not know the Eiffel Tower. It is almost impossible to imagine the city of Paris without this grand edifice, that attracts an enormous number of visitors every year. But, it was widely criticized when it was built, back in the 1880s.
In fact, people - including some prominent names from the art community of Paris - went to the extent of calling it an 'eyesore' and a 'black blot' on the picturesque landscape of the city.
Now however, this tower, located at Champ de Mars, has become a global icon of Paris and France, and its popularity among tourists and in popular culture speaks volumes about it.

Why Was the Eiffel Tower Built?

The Eiffel Tower was built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World Fair - Exposition Universelle, which marked the centennial celebration of the French Revolution.
It was considered to be the symbol of France's achievements in the field of science and engineering. Out of a number of designs submitted as part of a competition, Alexandre Gustave Eiffel won, and was responsible for the construction of the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower was a temporary structure with a permit of 20 years, after which, it was to be demolished, and that nearly happened in 1909. Had it not been for its use as a telecommunication tower, it would have been long gone!

Eiffel Tower Facts

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Even though it is one of the best known monuments worldwide, many interesting facts about the Eiffel Tower are not known to many. These facts range from some unbelievable ones - like 9,441 tons of wrought iron was used to build it, to some bizarre ones - like a conman almost sold it as scrap on two occasions.
Following are a few important facts about La Tour Eiffel, which explain the journey of this monument from being an exhibit at the 1889 World Fair to a global icon of France.
Construction of the Eiffel Tower began on January 28, 1887, and was eventually completed on March 31, 1889. It took 2 years, 2 months, and 5 days for the 300 workers involved to complete the task.
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, the person who had created the internal frame of the Statue of Liberty in 1885, was the main architect and contractor, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier were the main engineers, while Jean Compagnon handled the construction of the monumental edifice.
The Eiffel Tower stands 324 meters tall, inclusive of the 24 m antenna, and weighs 7,300 tons. With that height, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world when it was built, and continued to be so until 1930.
One can use the steps or elevators to reach the top, but the stairs are only available till the second platform, and the third platform is accessible only via elevators, which are also available for wheelchairs.
Due to the height of this structure and gusty winds, the chances of an accident during the construction were high, but prompt precautionary measures ensured that there were no accident-related deaths in the course of construction. The only death that was reported during its construction, occurred not during the working hours.
A temporary relocation of the Eiffel Tower to Montreal, wherein it was to be used as a landmark and tourist attraction during the 1967 International and Universal Exposition or Expo 67, was attempted in the 1960s.
However, the company which was in charge of operations ruled out this move out of the fear that the French administration may deny them the permission to restore it to its original place.
The Eiffel Tower was built using 9,441 tons of wrought iron (puddle iron) of the highest quality. It has a total of 1,710 steps that ascend to the third level platform at the top.
One has to climb 674 steps to the second level, and 347 steps to the first level, all counted from the ground.
Victor Lustig, a conman, famous for his scams the world over, posed as the deputy director-general of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs, and sold the Eiffel Tower to a scrap dealer - Andre Poisson - citing that the city could not afford the maintenance of this structure anymore. Lustig is now widely known as 'The man who sold the Eiffel Tower. Twice.'
In 1956, the Eiffel Tower suddenly caught fire, after which its top had to be reconstructed. In 2003, it caught fire again, which took a long time to be extinguished.
The ownership of the tower belongs to the city of Paris, and is given on a renewable contract to a limited company named Societe d'exploitation de la Tour Eiffel.
The names of 72 prominent French scientists and famous personalities are affixed on the sides just beneath the first platform, 18 names per side.
The Eiffel Tower has got restaurants on the three platforms. The restaurant on the first platform that directly faces the Seine river, is the '58 Tour Eiffel', previously 'Altitude 95'. The restaurant on the second platform is named 'Jules Verne', and is owned by the famous chef Alain Ducasse. The third platform has a bar and a lounge.
Today, the Eiffel tower is primarily used for TV and radio transmission, and also for cellular communication, other than being a popular tourist destination.

Other Intriguing Facts

In 1912, Franz Reichelt, an Austrian tailor, who claimed to have invented a coat parachute, tried to test his invention by jumping off the first deck of the tower. Unfortunately, he was killed in the attempt.

Between 1925 and 1934, a French automobile company, Citroën, converted the four corners of the tower into a billboard. At that time, it was the biggest advertisement ever.
The Eiffel is regarded as one of the most romantic places in the world. Moreover, it is also a favorite destination for honeymooners hailing from different countries.
Other than tourists, the Eiffel Tower has also attracted daredevils from across the globe. It has been scaled by mountaineers, and used as a platform for bungee jumping and parachuting. Some have even gone to the extent of using it as a platform for cycling and rollerblading stunts.
In the winter of 2004, the first level of the tower was converted into an ice skating rink in order to advertise and officially announce France's candidature for the 2012 winter Olympics.
Much like most of the other sky rising structures in the world, the Eiffel tower was also used by people to commit suicides. In fact, due to its height, it has a record of the highest number of suicides than any other French landmark.
Over 200 million people have visited the Eiffel Tower since its inception, with the 200,000,000th visitor visiting this monument on November 28, 2002.
All these facts speak volumes about the grandeur of the Eiffel Tower - a structure which stands tall as a witness to the two world wars, and much more. It is virtually impossible to believe that this is the same wrought iron tower which was criticized by artists and environmentalists alike.
Nor is it possible to believe that it was nearly brought down to be sold as scrap. If the authorities had given in to these sentiments back then, the history of world architecture would have had missed out on one of its most important chapters - the Eiffel Tower.