History Of The Eiffel Tower
The moment anyone talks about the Eiffel Tower, immediate scenes of romantic Paris come into mind. The Tower, also known as the La dame de fer, which means the Iron Lady in French, has an interesting history. Today what we know as the iconic symbol of Paris and France was not really appreciated when it was built.
Situated on the Champ de Mars in the city of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is made from puddle iron giving the tower its famous lattice appearance. It is the tallest structure in Paris and is believed to be one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world. The tower has been named after Gustave Eiffel, who was not only the designer, but also the engineer of the tower.
The tower was constructed as the entrance into the Exposition Iniverselle, which was a world fair, to mark the 100th year of the French Revolution. Its construction began in 1887 and it finished in 1889. Around 300 workers worked hard to complete the structure, which is made up 18,038 puddle iron pieces. These pieces are joined together with the help of 2.5 million rivets. While building the tower, the designers faced safety issues, as there was a risk of a worker falling down and dying since it did not have floor. However, proper precautions were taken and stagings that could be moved, screen and guard rails were installed to ensure that casualties would be kept to the minimum. There is record of just one worker plunging and dying during the construction of the tower. The inauguration of the tower took place on March 31, 1889 and it was opened to the public, who could visit the fair, on May 6, 1889.
Unfortunately, the structure was not very welcomed by the people of Paris. They did not think it was beautiful and the art community in the city was offended by it. Even the famous novelist, Guy de Maupassant, claimed that he hated the structure. However, he ate his lunch every single day in the restaurant located in the tower.
The permit issued to Gustave Eiffel for the tower was for a period of twenty years. The tower was supposed to get dismantled in 1909, after the ownership went back to the city. In fact, the city had plans in place to demolish the tower, but it was not brought down since another use of the tower was found. Due to its height, it could be used for communication purposes. When the first Battle of Marne broke out, the military actually used the tower to send taxis from Paris to the front line.
Just the iron used in building the tower weighs around 7,300 tons and when all the materials are taken into consideration, the weight is about 10,000 tons. Another unique feature of the tower is that due to thermal expansion, the top half of the tower facing the sun can at times move up to 18 centimeters away from the sun.
Gustave Eiffel designed the tower in a way that it would be able to resist wind. In windy conditions, the tower's wind resistance is so good that it just sways around six to seven centimeters at the most.
The tower does need a lot of maintenance in order to protect it from rusting. It requires the application of fifty to sixty tons of paint, which is applied every 7 years. Three different colors are used in painting. The darkest color is applied at the base, while the lightest one is applied at the very top of the tower. At times, the color of the tower is also changed.
The only elements that are not part of the structure of the tower are four grilled arches. These were added later on to the sketched design of the tower to allay the fears of the people that the tower was safe and did not pose a risk to their safety.
Standing at a height of 1,063 feet or 324 meters, the Eiffel Tower was considered to be the tallest man made structure in the whole world. It held this title for a record 41 years, until the title was claimed in 1930 by the Chrysler Building located in the city of New York. However, if one takes the antenna that was installed on top of the tower in the year 1957, it makes the tower taller than the Chrysler Building.
The tower consists of 3 levels, which are open to tourists and visitors. However, the entry is not free and requires a purchase of tickets. The people can take a lift or the staircase to reach the first and the second levels. The third level can be reached just with a lift. In the first and second level, there are several restaurants offering delicious and mouthwatering French food.
It is somewhat ironic that a structure that was criticized so much when it was built is now considered as the heart and soul of Paris. It is unimaginable to visit Paris and not see the Eiffel Tower.
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Wikipedia: Eiffel Tower