A Bit of History
The Eiffel Tower was built for the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889
commemorating the centenary of the French Revolution. The Prince of Wales, later
King Edward VII of England, opened the tower. Of the 700 proposals submitted in
a design competition, Gustave Eiffel's was unanimously chosen.
However it was not accepted by all at first, and a petition of 300 names -
including those of Maupassant, Emile Zola, Charles Garnier (architect of the
Opéra Garnier), and Dumas the
Younger - protested its construction.
At 300 metres (320.75m including antenna), and 7000 tons, it was the world's
tallest building until 1930. Other statistics include:
- 2.5 million rivets.
- 300 steel workers, and 2 years (1887-1889) to construct it.
- Sway of at most 12 cm in high winds.
- Height varies up to 15 cm depending on temperature.
- 15,000 iron pieces (excluding rivets).
- 40 tons of paint.
- 1652 steps to the top.
It was almost torn down in 1909, but was saved because of its antenna - used
for telegraphy at that time. Beginning in 1910 it became part of the
International Time Service. French radio (since 1918), and French television
(since 1957) have also made use of its stature.
During its lifetime, the Eiffel Tower has also witnessed a few strange
scenes, including being scaled by a mountaineer in 1954, and parachuted off of
in 1984 by two Englishmen. In 1923 a journalist rode a bicycle down from the
first level. Some accounts say he rode down the stairs, other accounts suggest
the exterior of one of the tower's four legs which slope outward.
However, if its birth was difficult, it is now completely accepted and must
be listed as one of the symbols of Paris itself.