The Paris Icon
There are few structures in the world as instantly recognizable as the Eiffel Tower, La Tour Eiffel.
A Paris icon, the tower was begun in 1887 and finished for the opening of the Universal Exposition in 1889, the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
The structure was the entrance arch for the Exposition. Its planning and building make for a great story in itself and its subsequent history is full of interesting tales.
Although widely criticized at its inception, the Tower has come to be one of the most visited landmarks in the world.
It was an engineering marvel of its day and it remains as one of the more remarkable structures ever conceived.
There are many ways to reach the Tower. The approach from the Palais de Chaillot, across the Seine river, gives a magnificent view.
History of the Eiffel Tower
The Tower was designed by Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923), following a competition for the project by over 700 entries. Gustave Eiffel, a French engineer and architect from Dijon, was an innovator and built many fine structures during his lifetime.
The Tower is 318 meters (1043 feet) tall, weighs 7,300 tons. The total weight, with decking, elevators, railing and paint is 10,100 tons.
It was the world's tallest structure for forty years.
According to the official website for the tower, the summit is reached by 1,665 steps.
The Eiffel Tower is constructed of 18,000 pieces of iron and held together by 2.5 million rivets. It is equipped with eight elevators.
On a windy day, the Tower sways, at most, 7 centimeters.
On a hot day, it can bend some 18 centimeters, an effect from the heat of the sun on the expanding metal.
It takes fifty tons of paint to cover the Tower which is done every 7 years. Every so often, the color of the paint is changed. Currently, it is painted a shade of brown.
On the first floor of the Tower are interactive consoles where you can register your choice for a future color.
Originally, Gustave Eiffel had a permit to leave the Tower standing for 20 years, more than recouping his expenses, but, as it proved valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to stay beyond the end of the permit.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Eiffel Tower has been used for transmission purposes. Until the 1950s, there was a triangular aerial, consisting of several wires, running from the top to anchor points in the Champ de Mars, the park in which the Tower stands.
This aerial was fed by transmitters which were in small housings on the Champ de Mars and used for long-wave transmission. Since 1957, the Eiffel Tower has been used as transmission tower for FM and TV and, therefore, has an aerial on the top.
Eiffel Tower Admission Prices and Hours
- The Tower is open everyday from 9:00 a.m. to midnight from the middle of June to early September. The remainder of the year hours are 9:30am to 11:00 pm
- Hours are subject to change depending on the crowds of people, the weather and the event of strikes.
- The prices for taking the elevator for adults are: 2nd Level: 9 euros, Top Level: 15 euros
- For those between 12-24 years old the elevator prices are: 2nd Level: 7 euros, Top Level: 13.50 euros
- For those between 4-11 years old the elevator prices are 2nd Level: 4.50 euros, Top Level: 11 euros
- Those under 4 years of age are admitted free.
- The price for taking the stairs to the 2nd Level for adults is 5 euros
- For those between 12-24 years old, 4 euros
- For those between 4-11 years old, 3.50 euros
- The Top Level is no longer accessible by stairs.
Interesting Events in the Life of the Tower
Father Theodor Wulf, in 1910, took observations of radiant energy from the top and the bottom of the Eiffel Tower and was the first to detect what are today known as cosmic rays.
In 1925, a con artist Victor Lustig, "sold" the Eiffel Tower for scrap. He did this not once, but twice.
In 1930, the Tower lost the title of the World's Tallest Structure. That honor then passed to the Chrysler Building in New York City.
From 1925 to 1936, the Citroën automobile company installed neon signs on three of the tower's four sides, making it the tallest billboard in the world.
When Adolf Hitler visited occupied Paris in 1940, the elevator cables were cut by the French so that he would have to climb the 1,665 steps to the summit. Hitler chose to stay on the ground. The parts to repair the elevators were, supposedly, impossible to obtain at that time due to war shortages. However, they were working again within hours of the Liberation of Paris.
A Frenchman scaled the Tower, during the German Occupation, to hang the French flag.
On January 3, 1956, a fire damaged the top of the tower.
In 1959, the present radio antenna was added to the top.
- In the 1980s, an old restaurant and its supporting iron scaffolding mid-way up the Tower, was dismantled. It was purchased and reconstructed in New Orleans, Louisiana, originally as the Tour Eiffel Restaurant, more recently known as the Red Room.
- For the celebration of the Millennium, 30,000 small lights were placed all over the Tower, set to blink on the hour for 10 minutes. Due to the popularity and beauty of the spectacle, the lights were permanently installed in 2003. However, in 2009, the duration of the light show was reduced to five minutes.
- The Tower received its 200,000,000th guest on November 28, 2002.
- At 7:20 p.m., on July 22, 2003, a fire occurred at the top of the Tower, in the broadcasting equipment room. The Tower was evacuated. The fire was extinguished in forty minutes and there were no reports of injuries.
Eiffel Tower Appearances in Film
- In the film "Van Helsing", the Eiffel Tower is under construction.
- In "Rugrats in Paris: The Movie", the babies are atop the Tower while using the giant Reptar invention.
- In "Team America: World Police", a rocket blows the tower up, then the Tower falls on the Arc de Triomphe.
- The James Bond film, "A View to a Kill", has a scene in the Eiffel Tower, including scenes in a fictional restaurant there.
- The Tower is shown in the 1970 animated film "The Aristocats".
- The Tower is destroyed in "Armageddon".
- The Tower flies and moves around Paris in the puppet version of "Without a Paddle". That scene starts after the movie-credits end.
- The Tower (and the rest of Paris) were almost blown up by a terrorist nuclear bomb and Lois Lane almost plunged to her death under its elevator in "Superman II".
- In "Mars Attacks!", the Eiffel Tower is destroyed by Martians.
- In "Godzilla: Final Wars", Kamacuras attacks the Tower.
- The Eiffel Tower can be seen on TV in "Independence Day".
- The Tower is seen in "Eurotrip".
- At the end of "The War of the Worlds", the Tower is seen destroyed.
- Condorman attempts to fly off of the Tower in the movie by the same name.
- At the end of the 1965 Blake Edwards movie, "The Great Race", the Tower is blown up by a mis-fired cannon shot from Professor Fate's car.
- In "The Real World", a Parisian television program, shown on the US MTV network, the Tower is seen in most episodes.
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