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, one was unanimously chosen, a radical creation from the French structural engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (b.
Dec. 15, 1832, d. Dec. 28, 1923), who was assisted in the design by engineers Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, and architect
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. The petition read, "We, the
writers, painters, sculptors, architects and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigour and all our indignation,
in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower."
Built to celebrate the science and engineering achievements of its age, soaring 300m / 984 ft. (320.75m / 1,052 ft. including
antenna) and weighing 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.
1671 steps to the top. .
Nature lovers thought that it would interfere with the flight of birds over Paris. But the Eiffel Tower was admired
by Rousseau, Utrillo, Chagall, and Delaunay. It was almost torn down in 1909 at the expiration of its 20-year lease, 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. In the 1960s, it
was the subject of a wonderful study by semiologist Roland Barthes.
First level: 57.63 meters (189 feet). Observatory from which to study the movements of the Eiffel Tower's summit. Kiosk
presentation about the mythic painting of the Eiffel Tower. Space CINEIFFEL: offers an exceptional panorama of sights from
the Tower. Souvenir shops (yes, every tourist MUST have a miniature replica). Restaurant "Altitude 95" (phone 01-45-55-20-04).
Post office, with special stamps "Paris Eiffel Tower ". Panoramic gallery displaying the Monuments of Paris.
Second level: 115.73 meters (379 feet, 8 inches). Panorama of Paris. Telescopes, shops. Animated displays on the operation
of the elevators. Jules Verne Restaurant (extremely expensive, reservations absolutely necessary; phone 01-45-55-61-44).
Third level: 276.13 meters (905 feet, 11 inches). Exceptional panoramic views, day or night, of Paris and its surroundings.
Recently restored office of Gustave Eiffel, showing him welcoming Thomas Edison. Panoramic guide displays to aid orientation.
Dioramas presenting the history of this platform.
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.
Politics have also played a role in its life. During World War II, the Germans hung a sign on it that read: "Deutschland
Siegt Auf Allen Fronten" ("Germany is victorious on all fronts"). In 1958, a few months before Fidel Castro's rise to power,
Cuban revolutionaries hung their red-and-black flag from the first level, and, in 1979, an American from Greenpeace hung one
that read: "Save the Seals". In 1989, the Tower celebrated its centennial with music and fireworks (the show lasted 89 minutes).