Travel - Locations
By: - at February 12, 2013

15 Fascinating Facts about the Eiffel Tower

Paris is one of the most iconic, if not most visually stunning cities in the entire world. In fact, France and Paris specifically, constantly rank as one of the top tourist destinations world wide. Over 78 million tourists visit France annually, with 77 million of this mega tourist boom population visiting the capital city of Paris.

One of the reasons for this interest in Paris is the Eiffel Tower which is a famous global destination for tourists, and Paris welcomes 7 million visitors each year to step inside and experience its legendary tower. The rest of the populace is content to view the tower from a nearby park or from the balconies of their hotel rooms, and it seems as if any place in Paris has a view of this iconic landmark. Depicted as a romantic landmark which increasingly makes Paris a popular destination for honeymooners, the tower seems to be in view from almost any one of the many romantic locales situated within the city limits of Paris.

eiffel tower at dusk

As some tourists and almost all Parisians know, the Eiffel Tower was not always a welcomed attraction in the City of Light. When the Eiffel Tower was first built, Parisians hated the structure, and never wanted to see the project completed. They commented that the design was, ironically, “less than Parisian,” and not consistent with the stoic architecture that Paris was traditionally known for. 

eiffel tower paris, france

That statement certainly is in contrast to the Eiffel Tower of today, which is one of the foremost structures of “Parisian-influenced” designs. The tower, which was built a century after the French Revolution or in 1889, is now the epitome of French and Parisian culture. The building is one structure that is as unique as it is architecturally influential.

15)  Steps and Height
The Eiffel Tower stands at over 1,000 feet high, and visitors can reach multiple floors by climbing the stairs or by taking one of three elevators. The tower is more than three times the height of the Statue of Liberty.

In fact, the metal landmark was the tallest structure in the world until 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built. Since that time, many more buildings and structures have been constructed that soar far higher than the tower. Yet, even though the tower’s size has been dwarfed by comparison, the structure still stands alone as an impressive if not magnificent Parisian landmark.

Step Number 669 of the Eiffel Tower:
Step Number 669 of the Eiffel Tower

A panoramic view of Paris can be seen from the Eiffel Tower’s second floor, which visitors can reach by climbing a total of 704 stairs. From that spot, tourists can take a glass elevator to the top, where they can enjoy a glass of champagne in the Eiffel Tower’s champagne bar.

Because of the tower’s height, it is often cooler and windier at the top than it is at the bottom. At each floor, visitors can experience the history and charm of the structure.

Tallest Structures from Around the World:
Tallest Structure from Around the World
By BurjDubaiHeight via Wikimedia Commons

Of course, that excursion pales by comparison to the daily jaunt that the engineer who designed the structure took. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, used to take a spiral staircase from the second floor all the way to the summit, which was the base for his office at the time. Those stairs were taken down in 1983, and now visitors can only reach the top by way of the aforementioned lift.

Modern Yellow Stairs of the Eiffel Tower:
Modern Yellow Stairs of the Eiffel Tower

Floors in the tower also feature restaurants, a presentation and event room, and a cinema that displays films that review the tower’s history. Therefore, visitors who take the steps to and from the second floor are afforded a breathtaking view of Paris from various vantage points. Moreover, some of the most iconic photos that have been taken inside the tower have originated from this climb. Needless to say, ascending the tower is an experience that will stay embedded in your memory for the rest of your life.

14)  Designers
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel is the man for whom the tower is named. Eiffel was a participant in a competition where entrants had to submit architectural ideas for a monumental landmark. The structure, which was proposed to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, was slated to be built for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris, also known as the World’s Fair of 1889.

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel in 1893:
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel in 1893

Eiffel was chosen from over 100 designers. The successful engineer also notably designed such landmarks as the Statue of Liberty in New York as well as the dome of the Nice Observatory. The Eiffel Tower marked the engineer’s last major project. After he retired from the engineering field, Eiffel went on to pursue innovations in the fields of meteorology and aerodynamics.

Maurice Koechlin:
Maurice Koechlin

Early Blueprint of Eiffel Tower by Maurice Koechlin from 1884:
Early Blueprint of Eiffel Tower by Maurice Koechlin from 1884

While Eiffel’s name is known around the world, hardly anybody has heard of Maurice Koechlin. He was employed by Eiffel as a structural engineer. The tower was, in fact, his original design. Koechlin, who was of Swiss origin, began working for Eiffel in 1879. In the spring of 1884, Koechlin, along with his colleague Emile Nouguier, proposed the concept of the Eiffel Tower design to his boss.

Emile Nouguier:
Emile Nouguier

In turn, Eiffel modified the men’s proposed concept, reconfiguring the structure so it was more ornate and elaborate. Afterwards, he proposed Koechlin’s idea as the plan design for the World’s Fair of 1889. Eiffel assumed full credit as the named designer.

13)  Two Types of “Strikes”
As is traditional of French workers when they are not satisfied with working conditions, employees of the Eiffel Tower went on strike in June 2013, preventing thousands of tourists from entering and ascending the tower during their holiday. Employees complained of the never-ending construction work on the tower, providing a long list of other complaints as well. The strike lasted two days but, in the interim, thousands of tourists were denied access inside the large landmark.

Historic French Strike of 1906 Called Pas-de-Calais:
Historic French Strike of 1906 Called Pas-de-Calais

Lightning has also been known to strike the tower over the years. In July 2013, Paris had one of its worst summer storms on record and the tower was struck three times. Happily, no damage was done to the structure, and photographers were able to capture breathtaking shots of the storm and lightning strikes.

Widespread Strikes of 2013 Affected Rail Transportation as Well:
Widespread Striking of 2013 Affected Rail Transportation as Well

12)  Deaths
Despite the many dangers of constructing the tower, only one man lost his life during the process. There is no verifiable document explaining the death, but Parisian storytellers relate that the man was drinking one night after finishing work for the day. He fell off of the tower after becoming inebriated. Because the accident occurred after working hours, it is not technically cited as a construction death, In turn then, the Eiffel Tower construction resulted in no official fatalities.

Despite the fact that no construction deaths have been tallied, the structure has been a selected site for suicides over the years. It is estimated that hundreds of suicides have occurred from various parts of the tower since the time of its completion.

Gustave Eiffel and Four Other People at the Summit of Eiffel Tower in 1889:
Gustave Eiffel and Four Other People at the Summit of Eiffel Tower in 1889

For example, some of the victims have been able to evade security and jump from the tower after it was closed to the public at night. Safety nets and fences have been built in the past to try to stop or circumvent the attempts. Nevertheless, people have always found a way to bypass these precautions.

Recent Eiffel Tower Jumper:
Recent Eiffel Tower Jumper

There has been a decrease in suicides over the years though, and an attempt in 2012 was the first one recorded in over two years. At that time, a woman attempted to jump from the tower’s summit. Fortunately, Parisian police were able to avert the attempt by taking her from the site by way of a helicopter.

11)  Lights
The Eiffel Tower has over 20,000 light bulbs that illuminate each evening, shining their vivid luminance over the streets of Paris. The lights shimmer on the hour, every hour, once it is dark for a total of five minutes. It’s a sight you definitely want to capture if you’re ever in Paris at night. The current bulbs give off 120 kilowatts of power and have cost more than four and a half million Euros to install.

The bulbs use little energy though, as each bulb only powers up to 6 watts of energy. Since each bulb is separate, they all sparkle individually. As a result, bulbs are easy to identify and replace when they quit working.

eiffel tower lights
By Rajeshdgsb via Wikimedia Commons

Other light displays have also adorned the Eiffel Tower over the years. In 1985, electrician Pierre Bideau designed a 336 projector display at the tower. The projectors shoot off a light that illuminates the entire tower from the inside.

Eiffel Tower Light Show:
Eiffel Tower Light Show

Light displays are replaced and reconfigured on the tower every few years. In the meantime, designers continually attempt to make innovations and upgrades to the lighting and electrical system.

10)  Imitations
Since imitation is said to be the highest form of flattery, you might say the Eiffel Tower is distinguished in this respect. Dozens of tower replicas exist in the world, all the way from Romania, to Las Vegas, and back to Mexico.

For example, just five years after the Eiffel Tower opened in 1889, the Blackpool Tower was unveiled in England. Its designer, John Bickerstaffe, had visited the World’s Fair in Paris and wanted to recreate the Eiffel Tower in his home country. Therefore, the Blackpool Tower, standing 500 feet high, was opened to the public in 1894.

Blackpool Tower:
Blackpool Tower
By zergo512 via Wikimedia Commons

In addition, both China and Japan have constructed replicas of the Eiffel Tower that are built to scale. For example, the Tokyo Tower was built in 1958. Mt. Fuji and Mt. Tsukuba can both be viewed from the structure’s summit. The structure features two observation decks from which visitors can take in the stunning views.

Tokyo Tower:
Tokyo Tower
By Volfgang via Wikimedia Commons

Paris also has its own replicas of world landmarks. For instance, you can see a small representation of the Statue of Liberty on the Seine. The memorial is set up so it is looking toward the city of New York, or across the Atlantic. A second replica of the statue can also be found in the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris. Both the replicas symbolize the unity between the United States and France.

Model in Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris:
Model in Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris
By Flip via Wikimedia Commons

9)  Parisian Hate
When the tower was first proposed and built, many Parisians hated it. Famous French figures protested the construction of the tower, such as Alexandre Dumas and Guy de Maupassant. Alexandre Dumas, who was the author of “The Three Musketeers,” and de Maupassant, who was considered the “Father of the Modern Short Story,” wrote an official letter of protest to the Minister of Public Works.

Alexandre Dumas in 1855:
Alexandre Dumas in 1855

The writers declared that the Eiffel Tower was a “dishonor to Paris,” all which incited fear in the locals that the tower would ruin and diminish the city's appearance. Parisians called the tower an “eye sore,” among other derogatory names, and rejected it as a symbol of the revolution.

Guy de Maupassant in 1888:
Guy de Maupassant in 1888

Over time, however, Parisians have come to recognize that the tower is not the hated symbol that it was first held to be. With the massive outside interest the tower draws each year, Parisians have grown to accept the tower for its standing as a signature site and attraction.

The number of tourists visiting the tower continue to increase annually. When the structure first opened, only a few hundred thousand travelers visited the now-illustrious and famous landmark. While the all-metal tower may not the most beautiful structure in the world, its classic, one-of-a-kind appearance makes it beautiful to anyone who sees it in person for the first time.

8)  Swaying in Wind
Because the tower is so high, it frequently sways when the wind picks up speed. In fact, the sway can extend to almost six inches. At times, visitors can even feel this extension while they are at the top.

View Down From First Platform:
View Down From First Platform
By Actress via Wikimedia Commons

High wind conditions also force officials to close the tower, at times, as well. Even when these precautions are taken, the design of the structure is meant to withstand some of the highest recorded wind speeds. As a result, there is no inherent danger that the tower will topple over or break into by the force of a high-speed breeze.

eiffel tower swaying in the wind

Plus, an engineer is always posted at the tower to keep track of wind conditions and make sure that the structure is safe for the public to ascend. Even so, it certainly would be an exhilarating experience to stand at the top of the tower when it was swaying to and fro.

7)  Engraved Names
Engraved Names eiffel towerSince Gustave Eiffel was an avid experimenter and loved science, he engraved the names of 72 scientists on the side of the Eiffel Tower to commemorate their work in the field. These engravings, which had been painted over, were restored to their former glory in 1986 and 1987.

Some of the men commemorated include mathematicians, surgeons, engineers, chemists, and geographers. The restored names are located on all four sides of the tower at the first level of ascension.

Eiffel wanted the tower to be a place where scientists could experiment, so he built a laboratory inside the structure, and allocated a space for the study of meteorology.

The lab was used extensively, and Eiffel, himself, conducted 5,000 trials in the facility. He also experimented with a wind tunnel, which he had built at the foot of the tall metal structure.

6)  Risky Moves
The Eiffel Tower has been used by many adventure seekers, acrobats, and risk-takers to perform amazing stunts. Some of these displays include cycling down the side of the tower, scaling up to the summit, or bungee jumping from the landmark.

In 1923, a journalist rode a bicycle down the tower, starting at the first level, and in 1964, to celebrate the tower’s 75th birthday, ten alpinists scaled the tower during a publicly televised broadcast. The planned ascent and celebration were interrupted, however, when a drunk and naked man appeared on the second platform and beat the alpinists to the top. He was ultimately arrested by police.

In 1987, famous bungee jumper and New Zealander, Alan John (“AJ”) Hackett, bungee jumped from the Eiffel Tower and was arrested shortly afterwards. His Eiffel Tower exhibition actually launched his career as he established the first commercially successful bungee jumping business in New Zealand as a result.

Bungee Jumper AJ Hackett About to Jump From Eiffel Tower:
Bungee Jumper AJ Hackett About to Jump From Eiffel Tower

5)  Painting Projects
The Eiffel Tower is repainted about every seven years. The repainting ensures that the structure’s metal will continue to endure. The last time the tower was painted, it cost over 5 million dollars U.S. Unleaded paint was used as a safety measure for the public.

Since the time it was built, the tower has been repainted a total of 18 times. The structure has been featured in numerous colors, including yellow, red, and bronze. During one repainting, sixty tons of paint were used to cover every square inch of the tower, including every crevice and bolt of the iconic structure. During the project, 25 painters risked their lives during the painting assignment. Painters of this caliber naturally need to be unaffected by heights and must be skilled at painting metal.

Painting the Eiffel Tower in 1910:
Painting the Eiffel Tower in 1910

Fifty kilometers (or over 30 miles) of safety lines were deployed over a surface area of 250,000 square meters. A repainting usually takes about a year and a half to complete, and painters use up 1,500 brushes while doing the job. Access to the structure is still open to the public when the project is taking place. Indeed, it’s quite a task as all the painting has to be done manually, or by the same method used when the tower was first built.,

Painters perform a three-step process, which includes cleaning and removing eroded and old paint, cleaning the tower, and then applying the new coat of paint. The task of painting also includes checking the structure’s condition. So, if a nut or bolt needs replacement, it is done at that time.

Not only is the tower itself repainted every seven years, art painting projects have been associated with the tower. The most notable of these projects was a piece of art that was produced by, an indigenous Australian woman by the name of Lena Nyadbi.

Additional Modern Lighting Renovations on the Eiffel Tower:
Additional Modern Lighting Renovations on the Eiffel Tower

In fact, museum directors at the Musee du Quai Branley were so enthralled with her work that they had a replica created on the rooftop of their museum. The painting can only be seen from the Eiffel Tower, making it a very special piece of indigenous artwork.

4)  Radio and Television
When the tower was built, it was originally meant to be a temporary structure, slated to be ripped down 20 years after its completion. If that had been the case, the great monument of Paris that you know today would no longer exist. The reason the structure was saved from demolition was because it was deemed practical for the transmission of radio broadcasts.

The first transmission took place in 1910 and could be heard as far away as Georgia and Canada during the day. Transmissions were sent out during the First World War as well when the French intercepted enemy communications during the period. Transmissions were also used to broadcast emergency announcements to dispatch more troops during the war.

Modern Telecommunications Antenna at top of Eiffel Tower:
Modern Telecommunications Antenna at top of Eiffel Tower

Radio Tour Eiffel became popular in the 1920s in Paris. Locals were entertained by news and show business entertainment during the decade. In 1953, the Eiffel Tower was able to broadcast The Queen of England’s coronation to all of France on TV. Nowadays, the tower now has over 100 antennae and transmits broadcasts for 41 TV stations and 32 radio stations from its location.

3)  Precise Calculations
The Eiffel Tower was constructed with precise calculations. Over 2.5 million rivets were used to build it. Each rivet required four men to assemble it. Each piece of the tower was constructed by hand.

Workers used temporary wooden scaffoldings to place the rivets in their specific spots. The tower is made up of over 18,000 metal parts, over 7,000 tons of iron, and 60 tons of paint. Hundreds of workers were on duty at the construction site, while another 150 worked at a nearby factory.

Eiffel Tower Equation:
Eiffel Tower Equation

Based on this mathematical model, by balancing the maximum torque created by wind combined with the torque that is made by the tower's own mass, Gallant derived an equation describing the shape of the tower:

Fifty engineers helped design and create the tower, and over 5,000 workshop drawings were created to establish the design. As the construction took place in under two years, the precision and skill that were used is quite remarkable. No other construction project can match the efforts that were made in completing this intricate metal structure and memorial.

2)  Hitler’s Visit
In order to discourage the flying of a German or Nazi flag during the World War II German occupation of Paris, the elevator cables to the top of the tower were cut. If Hitler’s Nazi party wanted to get to the top of the Eiffel Tower, they would have to climb all 1,710 stairs.

Nazi Occupied Paris:
Nazi Occupied Paris
By Bundesarchiv, Bild via Wikimedia Commons

In an act of national pride, a Frenchman scaled the tower to hoist the French flag during the last part of World War II. When it became clear to Hitler that he would lose the war, he demanded that the tower be destroyed.

Adolf Hitler in Paris June 1940:
Adolf Hitler in Paris June 1940
By Bundesarchiv, Bild via Wikimedia Commons

Paris legend recounts the story: The man in charge of carrying out Hitler’s order, General Dietrich von Choltitz, liked the tower and disobeyed Hitler’s command.

Evidence still can be found of the German occupation in Paris, as many buildings still have bullet holes in their sides. However, the Eiffel Tower still stands strong - a testament to France’s triumph over the Nazis in the Second World War.

1)  Scandal at the Tower
The Eiffel Tower wouldn’t be a world-renowned structure without some scandal surrounding it. Over the years, it has been the site for numerous incidents of bad or defamatory behavior. For example, in 2010, after snow had fallen on the Parc du Champ De Mars lawn, someone drew a giant penis in the snow. The depiction was clearly visible when people looked down from the tower and onto the snow.

 Parc du Champ De Mars, Paris:
 Parc du Champ De Mars, Paris

In 2013, 60 tons of mini Eiffel Tower trinkets were seized by the Parisian police because they were being sold on the black market. The items were confiscated because they were not taxed.

In 2007, 15 employees of the Eiffel Tower were arrested on charges of fraud. Police estimated that these employees conducted over 100,000 fraudulent transactions, pocketing the money they made from printing additional tickets that had not been recorded as being sold. The employees, who spent some time in prison, were assessed fines for the amounts of the fraudulent sales.

Eiffel Tower and the Parc du Champ De Mars With Downtown Paris in Background:
Eiffel Tower and the Parc du Champ De Mars With Downtown Paris in Background
Carlos Delgado via Wikimedia Commons

Besides all these illegal activities, the Eiffel Tower is also a place where secret rendezvous are planned, all which gives the iconic site an extra flair of excitement as well..

You can’t help but conclude that the Eiffel Tower is a fascinating place. Even though the structure is well-known around the world, there certainly is more to learn about this mysterious gem.

While the attraction has been seen as a site of controversy, it also has been seen as a structure that has fostered unity and national pride. Risky adventures and personal goals have been realized at the site.

The center and heart of Paris, the Eiffel Tower definitely is not the structure of yesteryear. Nevertheless, Gustave Eiffel would, no doubt, be pleased by the noteworthy influence that the tower has had on the world in the last three centuries.





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