Paris would not be Paris without the Eifel Tower and this iron lattice tower is a global icon of French culture, liberty & romance. The tower is the tallest building in Paris and is visited by 6.8 million people annually with over 250,000,000 visitors since it was built in 1889. Built as the entrance arch for the Wolds Fair it took around 280 workers 2 year 2 months & 5 days to build to the 10,000 ton, 324 meter (1050 ft.) tall tower. The Eifel Tower was the tallest building in the world until the Chrysler building was built in New York in 1930. The pioneering iron lattice frame of the tower showed the potential of steel construction that would enable skyscrapers to reach such great heights. The tower was not designed to sway more than 15 cm (5 inches) in high winds but the structure does rather intriguingly shrink by 6 inches as it metal contracts in the winter.
Bridge engineer Gustave Eifel was granted a permit to build the tower which after 20 years would be taken down. The open lattice design meant that wind resistance was low so it could be built higher than any other building before. It is made up of 18,000 pieces of iron held together by a staggering 2.5 million rivets and is coated with 60 tons of paint.
When building finished in 1889, the tower was seen as an eye saw and its design was openly attacked by painters like Jean Jean-Léon Gérôme and writers like Alexander Dumas. Novelist Guy de Maupassant hated the tower so much that he eat lunch in its Jules Verne first floor restaurant every day, because it was the only place in Paris he could not see the tower from.
The tower was a great success with the public though who enjoyed a 50 mile view on a clear day. In 1909 its license expired and it was due for demolition. It was saved by the new technology of radio telegraphy that required antennas being placed on high towers. It came to serve as a vital link in transatlantic radio telephone services as well as radio and television transmissions. If the antennas added to the tower in 1957 are taken into account The Eifel Tower is now higher than the Chrysler building.
If you are fit you can climb the 1,710 steps to the top of the tower or, as most people prefer, you can take one of its lifts. The lifts run up the curved corner sections of the tower to each of the 3 stages of the tower. The lifts are an engineering feat in themselves requiring special hand made brakes that adapt to the varying angle of the decent.
The name of Eifel is immortalized in his iconic tower in Paris and he was also involved with making the metal frame of the iconic Statue of Liberty. One hundred and twenty years after the Tower was attacked as being a eye saw, it has become one of the great romantic symbols of Paris and France and it is now impossible to imagine Paris without the Eifel Tower.
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