La tour Eiffel's hourly light show in progress on a rainy late October night. La Seine is in the foreground.
Unquestionably the most famous landmark in the world is la tour Eiffel
, certainly la tour
is a symbol both of Paris and of France. La tour Eiffel
was financed by its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, and was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the 1889 Exposition Universelle
, a World's fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution.
La tour Eiffel
is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars
beside la Seine
. At the time of its completion in 1889 it was the tallest structure in the world, and remained so until 1930 when the Chrysler building in New York City opened. Over 5.5 million people each year visit the tower.
The tower was inaugurated on le 31 mars 1889
, and opened on le 6 mai
. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron, using two and a half million rivets. The risk of accident was great, for unlike modern skyscrapers the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. Yet, because Eiffel took good care of his workers with movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died (during the installation of Otis Elevator's lifts).
The tower is 300 meters (986 feet) tall, not including the 24-meter television antenna on top. The metal structure weighs 7,300 metric tons, the total weight is 10,100 metric tons. According to the official website
for the tower, the summit is reached by 1,665 steps.
Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the Eiffel Tower may shift away from the sun by up to eight centimetres (3.25 inches), due to expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun.
Maintenance on the tower includes applying 50 metric tons of three graded tones of paint every 7 years to protect it from rust. On occasion, the color of the paint is changed (the tower is currently painted a shade of brown). On the first floor, there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the color to use for a future session of painting.
The tower was met with resistance from the public when it was first built, many thought it an eyesore. Today, it is widely considered to be one of the most striking pieces of structural art in the world.
One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes la tour Eiffel
. In reality, la tour
is not visible from a large part of Paris, due to retards that block the sight and other constructions blocking the view.
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 after the end of the permit.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, la tour Eiffel
has been used for radio transmission. Until the 1950s, there was an aerial running from the top to anchor points on the Champ de Mars
. This aerial was fed by long-wave transmitters which were in small housings on the Champ de Mars
. Since 1957, la tour Eiffel
has been used as transmission tower for FM and television.
La tour Eiffel
has two restaurants: Altitude 95, on the first floor (95 metres above sea level); and the Jules Verne, an expensive gastronomical restaurant on the second floor, with a private elevator. This restaurant has one star in the Michelin Red Guide.
When the Nazis occupied Paris in 1940, the lift cables were cut by the French so that Hitler would have to climb the 1,665 steps to the summit - the part to repair them was allegedly impossible to obtain because of the war, though it was working again within hours of the departure of the Nazis. Hitler chose to stay on the ground. A Frenchman also scaled the tower during the German occupation to hang the French flag. In 1944,when the Allies liberated Paris some time after D-Day, the retreating German General, Dietrich von Choltitz,
was ordered to destroy the great tower. He refused, and his Nazi superiors had him executed.
In the year 2000, flashing lights and four high-power searchlights were installed on the tower. Since then this spectacular light show has become a nightly event. The searchlights on top of the tower make it a beacon in Paris' night sky.
The tower received its 200,000,000th guest on le 28 novembre 2002
La tour Eiffel viewed from the fountains at Trodadéro
across la Seine.
A view from the north west leg up into the framework on a rainy October night.
Another view up into the framework at night.