Paris’ most iconic landmark, the Eiffel Tower, has had a somewhat complex, unique and utterly bizarre history – here’s what to know.
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized man-made monuments in the world. It is an unmissable part of Paris and is often a symbol for Paris and France. But his story is unique and strange – he was never meant to be the icon he is today. The Eiffel Tower has an unlikely story to tell that makes it even more special.
Today, tourists who visit the Eiffel Tower are rewarded with some of the best panoramic views of Paris possible. But while the Eiffel Tower is a must-see icon of Paris, that’s not the only reason to visit Paris, Paris has no shortage of other truly amazing attractions.
The origins and purpose of the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower was built between 1887 and 1889 and was the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair (called Exposition Universelle de 1889). The exhibition was the fourth of eight exhibitions held in Paris between 1855 and 1937. It attracted over thirty-two million visitors.
- Goal: Be the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair
The Eiffel Tower was built especially for the Exposition and was only meant to be a temporary structure for the event. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest structure in the world. The bidding competition for the construction of the structure simply called for a three hundred meter tower with a base one hundred meters wide.
The exhibition celebrated the centenary of the French Revolution – an event officially boycotted by many monarchies in Europe.
- Construction: It took 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to build the Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel whose company designed and built the tower.
- Gustave Eiffel & Lady Liberty: Eiffel had recently built the iron frame of the Statue of Liberty
During the first week of the expo, nearly 30,000 people climbed the tower’s narrow spiral staircase to the viewing platform, as the elevators were not yet in service. By the end of the 173-day event, nearly 2 million people had climbed the tower.
After the exhibition ended, the tower found a new use as a weather station. In 1909, the 20-year exclusive rights to the tower by the construction company ended and it was decided to preserve the tower permanently.
Opposition to the Eiffel Tower
Strange as it may seem today, the tower was initially criticized by some of France’s greatest artists and intellectuals for its design. No one had ever built a building more than 200 meters high – let alone more than 300 meters before and many thought it was impossible.
- Opposition: Many French artists were opposed to the construction of the Eiffel Tower
Many opposed it for artistic reasons and even a petition called the “Artists against the Eiffel Towerr” was sent to the government. The petition published by The weather in February 1887 said:
“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and enthusiasts of the hitherto intact beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of a flouted French taste, against the erection… of this tower Useless and monstrous Eiffel“
American inspiration for the Eiffel Tower
According to Eiffel, the inspiration for the tower came from the United States. The Latting Observatory was built in New York in 1853 as part of the Exhibition of Industry of All Nations. It was an iron-reinforced wooden tower and was located on the north side of 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues (directly across from present-day Bryant Park).
The observatory was designed by Waring Latting and designed by William Naugle. From its observatory, visitors could see into Queens, south to Staten Island, and west to New Jersey.
- Height: 315 feet or 96 meters
- The biggest: It was the tallest structure in New York when it was first built
- Destiny: It burned down in 1856
The Eiffel Tower today
The tower has three levels for visitors – with restaurants on the first and second levels. The highest level is 276 meters or 906 feet high and is the highest viewing platform in the European Union.
- Nickname: She is locally known as “La Dame de Fer” or “Iron Lady”
- Designated: It was designated as part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991
- Height: 324 meters or 1,036 feet (tallest structure in Paris)
- Chrysler Building: Took the title of tallest building in the Eiffel Tower in 1930 after holding it for 41 years
Today, the Eiffel Tower is open to the public and everyone can discover this powerful icon of France. Check the updated information on the official Eiffel Tower website and enjoy the tower’s many observatories, shops and restaurants.
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