Eiffel Tower

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Editing of this article by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled. If you are prevented from editing this article, and you wish to make a change, please discuss changes on the talk page, request unprotection, log in, or create an account.

The Eiffel Tower
Location Paris, France
Status Complete
Constructed 1889
Use Observation tower
Antenna/Spire 324 m (1,063 ft)
Roof 300.65 m (986 ft)
Architect Gustave Eiffel
Structural Engineer Gustave Eiffel
Services Engineer Gustave Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower (French: La Tour Eiffel, /tuʀ ɛfɛl/) is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars beside the River Seine in Paris, France. It is one of the tallest structures in Paris and possibly one of the most recognized monuments in the world.[1] Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, it is the most visited monument in the world; 6,428,441 people visited the tower in 2005[2] and more than 200,000,000 since its construction.[3] Including the 24 m (78.7 ft) antenna, the structure is 324 m (1,063 ft) high (since 2000), which is about 81 stories. In 1902, it was struck by lightning, which meant that 100 metres of the top had to be reconstructed and the lights illuminating the tower had to be replaced, as they were damaged by the high energy of the lightning.

At the time of its construction in 1887, the tower replaced the Washington Monument as the world's tallest structure, a title it retained until 1930, when New York City's Chrysler Building (319 m/1,046.58 ft tall) was completed[4] (today, the Eiffel Tower is taller than the Chrysler Building). The tower is now the fifth-tallest structure in France. The Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris, with the second-tallest being the Tour Montparnasse (210 m/689 ft) and it will soon be the Tour AXA (225.11 m/738.5 ft).

The structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tons. There are 1,665 steps (360 to the first level, another 359 to the second). It is not possible for the public to reach the summit via the stairs, lifts are required beyond the second platform. Lift tickets may be purchased at the base or either platform. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18cm, due to thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun. The tower also sways 6-7cm in the wind.[5]

Maintenance of the tower includes applying 50/60 tons of three graded tones of paint every seven years to protect it from rust. On occasion, the color of the paint is changed — the tower is currently painted a shade of brownish-gray. However, the tower is actually painted three different colors in order to make it look the same color. The colors change from dark to light from top to bottom, but it looks the same because of the background (the sky being light and the ground being dark).[6] On the first floor, there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the color to use for a future session of painting. The co-architects of the Eiffel Tower are Emile Naugier, Maurice Koechlin and Stephen Sauvestre.[7]



Eiffel Tower under construction in July 1888.
Eiffel Tower under construction in July 1888.

The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Eiffel originally planned to build it in Barcelona, for the Universal Exposition of 1888, but they rejected it. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and opened on 6 May. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. 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 safety precautions including use of movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died.

The tower was met with resistance from the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. (Novelist Guy de Maupassant — who claimed to hate the tower — supposedly ate lunch at the Tower's restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where you couldn't see the Tower.) Today, it is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.

One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes the tower. In reality, since zoning restrictions limit the height of most buildings in Paris to a few stories, only the very few taller buildings have a clear view of the tower.

Eiffel had a permit for the tower to stand for 20 years, meaning it would have had to be dismantled in 1909, when its ownership would revert to the City of Paris. The City had planned to tear it down (part of the original contest rules for designing a tower was that it could be easily demolished) but as the tower proved valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to remain after the expiry of the permit. The military used it to dispatch Parisian taxis to the front line of the Marne, and it therefore became a victory statue of that battle. It was also used to catch the infamous "Mata Hari", and after this, its demolition became unthinkable.

Shape of the tower

At the time the tower was built many people were shocked by its daring shape. Gustave Eiffel was criticized for the design and accused of trying to create something artistic, or inartistic according to the viewer, without regard to engineering. Eiffel and his engineers, as renowned bridge builders however, understood the importance of wind forces and knew that if they were going to build the tallest structure in the world they had to be certain it would withstand the wind. In an interview reported in the newspaper Le Temps, Eiffel said:

Now to what phenomenon did I give primary concern in designing the Tower? It was wind resistance. Well then! I hold that the curvature of the monument's four outer edges, which is as mathematical calculation dictated it should be (...) will give a great impression of strength and beauty, for it will reveal to the eyes of the observer the boldness of the design as a whole.

—translated from the French newspaper Le Temps of 14 February 1887 [8]

The shape of the tower was therefore determined by mathematical calculation involving wind resistance. Several theories of this mathematical calculation have been proposed over the years, the most recent is a nonlinear integral differential equation based on counterbalancing the wind pressure on any point on the tower with the tension between the construction elements at that point. That shape is exponential.[9][10]


Since the beginning of the 20th century, the tower has been used for radio transmission. Until the 1950s, an occasionally modified set of antenna wires ran from the summit to anchors on the Avenue de Suffren and Champ de Mars. They were connected to long-wave transmitters in small bunkers; in 1909, a permanent underground radio center was built near the south pillar and still exists today. On 20 November 1913 the Paris Observatory, using the Eiffel Tower as an antenna, exchanged sustained wireless signals with the United States Naval Observatory which used an antenna in Arlington, Virginia.

The object of the transmissions was to measure the difference in longitude between Paris and Washington, DC.[11]

During the German occupation of Paris between 1940 and 1944 the tower was also used for German television broadcasts, which were apparently intended mostly for wounded German soldiers in local military hospitals. Since 1957, the tower has been used for transmission of FM radio and television.

The tower has two restaurants: Altitude 95, on the first floor (95 m above sea level); and the Jules Verne, an expensive gastronomical restaurant on the second floor, with a private lift. This restaurant has one star in the Michelin Red Guide. In January 2007 a new multi-Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse was brought in to run Jules Verne. [12]


The Eiffel Tower served as a billboard for Citroën from 1925 to 1934.
The Eiffel Tower served as a billboard for Citroën from 1925 to 1934.

Father Theodor Wulf in 1910 took observations of radiant energy radiating at the top and bottom of the tower, discovering at the top more than was expected, and thereby detecting what are today known as cosmic rays.

In 1925, the con artist Victor Lustig twice "sold" the tower for scrap.

In 1930, the tower lost the title of the world's tallest structure when the Chrysler Building was completed in New York City.

From 1925 to 1934, illuminated signs for Citroën adorned three of the tower's four sides, making it the tallest billboard in the world at the time.

Upon the Nazi occupation of Paris in 1940, the lift cables were cut by the French so that Hitler would have to climb the steps to the summit. The parts to repair them were allegedly impossible to obtain because of the war, though they were working again within hours of the departure of the Nazis. Soldiers had to climb all the way to the top to hoist the swastika from the top, but the flag was so large it blew away just a few hours later, and they had to go back up again with a smaller one. Hitler chose to stay on the ground. A Frenchman scaled the tower during the German occupation to hang the French flag. In August 1944, when the Allies were nearing Paris, Hitler ordered General Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to demolish the tower along with the rest of the city. He disobeyed the order, because he didn't want to go down in history as the man who destroyed the Eiffel Tower and the rest of Paris.

On 3 January 1956, a fire damaged the top of the tower.

In 1959 the present radio antenna was added to the top.

In the 1980s an old restaurant and its supporting iron scaffolding midway up the tower was dismantled; it was purchased and reconstructed in New Orleans, Louisiana, originally as the Tour Eiffel Restaurant, known more recently as the Red Room.

In 1985's James Bond adventure movie A View to a Kill, Sir Roger Moore as James Bond chases May Day played by actress Grace Jones at the Eiffel Tower. She parachuted from the tower some 700-feet+. The video of the movie's theme, performed by the group Duran Duran, also included several scenes of the band staged on the tower.

On New Year's Eve of 2000, the Eiffel Tower played host to Paris' Millennium Celebration. Fireworks exploded from the whole length of the tower in a spectacular display that made it one of the highlights of the celebration worldwide.

In 2000, flashing lights and four high-power searchlights were installed on the tower. Since then the 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 28 November 2002. It is the world's most visited monument.

At 19:20 on 22 July 2003, a fire occurred at the top of the tower in the broadcasting equipment room. The entire tower was evacuated; the fire was extinguished after 40 minutes, and there were no reports of injuries.

Since 2004, the Eiffel Tower has hosted an ice skating rink on the first floor during the winter period. Skating is free and it offers a fine view of southern Paris.

The 72 names

On the tower, Gustave Eiffel engraved seventy-two names of French scientists, engineers and some other notable people, in recognition of their contributions. This engraving was painted over at the beginning of the twentieth century and restored in 1986-1987 by the Société Nouvelle d'exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, a company contracted to operate business related to the Tower. The Tower is owned by the city of Paris.

Image copyright claims

Images of the tower have long been in the public domain; however, in 2003 SNTE installed a new lighting display on the tower. The effect was to put any night-time image of the tower and its lighting display under copyright. As a result, it was no longer legal to publish contemporary photographs of the tower at night without permission in some countries.[13][14]

The imposition of copyright has been controversial. The Director of Documentation for SNTE, Stéphane Dieu, commented in January 2005, "It is really just a way to manage commercial use of the image, so that it isn't used in ways we don't approve." However, it also potentially has the effect of prohibiting tourist photographs of the tower at night from being published[15] as well as hindering non profit and semi-commercial publication of images of the tower.

In a recent decision, the Court of Cassation ruled that copyright could not be claimed over images including a copyrighted building if the photograph encompassed a larger area. This seems to indicate that SNTE cannot claim copyright on photographs of Paris incorporating the lit tower.

In popular culture

As a globally recognizable landmark, the Eiffel Tower is featured in many popular media including movies, video games, and television shows. Such movies include Superman II, Team America: World Police and the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill.

Similar towers and reproductions

Similar towers (not scale models)

In order of decreasing height:


In order of decreasing height:

See also


  1. ^ http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk/documentation/chiffres/page/tour_monde.html
  2. ^ http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk/documentation/structure/page/chiffres.html
  3. ^ http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk/documentation/chiffres/page/frequentation.html
  4. ^ ThinkQuest article on the Eiffel Tower.
  5. ^ http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk/documentation/structure/page/chiffres.html
  6. ^ http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk/documentation/dossiers/page/peinture.html
  7. ^ http://www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk/documentation/dossiers/page/invention.html
  8. ^ http://christophe.chouard.free.fr/eiffel/reponse-eiffel.htm
  9. ^ http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=15835046
  10. ^ http://www.vaeng.com/news/correct-theory-explaining-the-eiffel-towers-design-revealed
  11. ^ "Paris Time By Wireless," New York Times, 22 November, 1913, pg 1.
  12. ^ http://www.bonjourparis.com/Articles/Destination_Paris/The_Eiffel_Tower__Breaking_News/
  13. ^ Statement that publishing pictures of the lighting requires a fee
  14. ^ In the United States, for example, 17 USC 120(a) explicitly permits the publication of photographs of copyrighted architecture in public spaces. In Germany this is known as Panoramafreiheit.
  15. ^ http://blog.fastcompany.com/archives/2005/02/02/eiffel_tower_repossessed.html
  16. ^ http://www2.odn.ne.jp/yoko-tower/list1-e.htm
  17. ^ Disney's official French Pavilion page - lists the Eiffel Tower as approximately 1/10th the height of the original.
  18. ^ http://www.dalefield.com/mwes/history/eiffel_tower.html
  19. ^ http://www.falconcity.com/
  • Frémy, Dominique, Quid de la Tour Eiffel, Robert Lafont, Paris (1989) — out of print


    External links

    Wikimedia Commons has media related to: