From an Eyesore to One of the most Famous Paris Landmarks:
Originally intended as a structure to commemorate the centenary celebration of the French Revolution, who could’ve guessed that 100 years later the Eiffel Tower would become the symbol of Paris itself? After all, when the the tower was built, it was highly criticized by the public, with many calling it an eyesore!
A Top Paris Attraction
Judging by the seven million visitors annually and the millions of photographs, the Eiffel Tower has become one of the most visited Paris attractions. To-date this famous Paris landmark, designed by Gustave Eiffel, has received over 200 million visitors since its completion in 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle. Queues to get up the tower are usually quite long, but you can skip the line by booking your ticket in advance.
Some Eiffel Tower Facts
For two years, three hundred workers joined over 18,000 pieces of structural iron to form the tower’s three distinct levels. Those levels currently house 1,665 steps to the top. But the visitor can be grateful
not to have to climb the 300 m (984 ft) tower, thanks to the many elevators. The uppermost portion supports a 24 m (79ft) spire.
By far the tallest structure in Paris, the tip may bend away from the vertical by as much as 18 cm (7in) due to expansion of its 7,300 metric tons of iron. Warming by the sun heats one side more than the other.
That’s all the more remarkable since wind shear is usually the major problem with tall structures. But, the engineering is so well-thought out that the strongest winds cause no more than five inches of deflection.
Every seven years the entire structure is re-painted (using 50 tons of paint) to prevent rusting. Visitors can vote on the next color to be used by means of a computer housed in the tower.
Once the Tallest Tower
Among many remarkable statistics about the Eiffel Tower is its history as the world’s tallest structure until being overtaken by the Chrysler Building in 1930. Quite a long reign considering there were widespread petitions to have it torn down by some who considered it ugly and intrusive.
That might have succeeded if it hadn’t been in use as an antenna for the then-leading-edge technology of telegraphy. More than just decorative, the Eiffel Tower has been used as part of a communications system almost from the start. In 1909 a permanent underground radio centre was built and since 1957 it’s been used as a transmission tower for both FM radio and television.
The tower has even been part of scientific research. In 1910, Wulf used it to make measurements that resulted in the discovery of cosmic rays.
Dining at the Eiffel Tower
But in typical Gallic fashion the practical use exists side-by-side with the aesthetic. The tower holds two restaurants: Altitude 95 on the first level, and the Jules Verne on the second. The latter has earned one star in the Michelin Guide and is accessible via a private elevator.
Apart from appearing in millions of photographs and thousands of television commercials, it has been used more directly as an advertising vehicle. From 1925 to 1934 the tower supported billboards for the automaker Citroen.
But most tourists don’t need commercials to motivate a visit. The view from the observation platform, especially at dusk, more than exceeds any expectations set by ads. All of Paris twinkles below as the city is illuminated by both the onset of electric lights and the fading sun.
And for those enjoying one of the many Seine River dinner cruise, the dazzling Eiffel Tower by night is sure to extract lots of oohs and ahs. But the Eiffel Tower is really at its best during the New Year’s Eve illuminations.
To visit the tower, take the Metro – the Paris subway – to the Trocadero station. Then, walk from the Palais de Chaillot to the Seine. Ticket queues during the peak summer season can be lengthy.
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