The Eiffel Tower was built for the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889commemorating the centenary of the French Revolution. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII of England, opened the tower. Of the 700 proposals submitted in a design competition, Gustave Eiffel‘s was unanimously chosen. However it was not accepted by all at first, and a petition of 300 names – including those of Maupassant, Emile Zola, Charles Garnier (architect of the Opéra Garnier), and Dumas the Younger – protested its construction. At 300 meters (320.75 m including antenna), and 7,000 tons, it was the world’s tallest building until 1930. Other statistics include:
Where's Eiffel Tower located?
The Eiffel Tower is located on the Champs de Mars at 5 Avenue Anatole France in the 7th arrondissement of Paris. The symbolic monument in the heart of Paris can be spotted from a distance and is easily identifiable.
How to get there?
Addres: Champ de Mars 5 Avenue Anatole France 75007 Paris
Metro: Trocadero, lines 6 and 9; Ecole militaire, line 8.
Bus: lines 42, 69, 72, 82 and 87.
RER: Champ de Mars – Tour Eiffel, line C.
7 July – 1 September: 9am – 12:45am
Rest of the year: 9:30am – 11:45pm (stairs: 9:30am – 6:30pm)
In May 1884 the Swiss structural engineer Maurice Koechlin, together with the French civil engineer and architect Emile Nouguier – both taken on by Gustave Eiffel’s company to help with the tower’s architecture – made the first outline drawing of the structure, which they described as a huge pylon, made up of four lattice girders set apart at the base and coming together at the top, connected by metal trusses at regular intervals. Allowed to pursue the project further by Eiffel, they consulted Stephen Sauvestre – head of company’s architectural department – who suggested adding decorative arches to the base, as well as other minor embellishments. Eiffel approved and purchased the rights to the design, which he exhibited at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts in the autumn of 1884.
In May 1886, following the re-election of Jules Grevy (1807-91) as President of France and Edouard Lockroy (1838-1913) as Minister of Commerce and Industry, a commission was set up to judge entries for the Exposition Universelle, which (for whatever reason) determined to choose Eiffel’s architectural scheme with little or no consideration of the 100 or so alternatives. A contract was therefore signed in January 1887, which caused amazement as well as a wave of criticism, on both technical and aesthetic grounds. A committee was formed to fight the proposal, under the leadership of the renowned architect Charles Garnier (1825-98), which included a number of important figures in French arts, such as the academic painter Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) and the writer Guy de Maupassant (1850-93). Later of course opinions changed, and in 1964 the Tower was officially designated a historical monument by Minister of Cultural Affairs Andre Malraux (1901-76). In August 1944, as Allied forces were about to enter Paris, Hitler ordered the city’s military governor to blow-up the tower along with several other important cultural sites. Luckily the governor disobeyed the order.
After winning the contract to build the tower, Gustave Eiffel discovered that the Exposition Committee would only contribute about 25 percent of the finance needed to build it. They wanted Eiffel himself to pay the balance, which he agreed to do provided he was allowed complete control over the tower and its profits for twenty years. The committee agreed, the tower paid for itself in the first year, and Gustave Eiffel made a fortune.
Work on the foundations began on 28 January 1887. The open-lattice iron structure consisted of four massive arched legs, set on masonry piers, that curve inward until they meet in a single, tapered tower. Each leg rests on four concrete slabs (each 6 m thick), which required foundations of up to 22 m (72 feet) in depth. The iron base of the tower was connected to the stonework by bolts which were 10 centimetres (4 inches) in diameter and 7.5 metres (25 ft) in length. In total 18,000 pieces were used to build the tower, joined by two and a half million thermally assembled rivets. Every piece was tooled specifically for the project and manufactured in Eiffel’s factory in Paris.
Amazingly the entire building project was completed in less than 2 years and 7 weeks, and despite the fact that 300 workers were employed on-site, there was only one health and safety death – thanks largely to Eiffel’s strict safety precautions.
One of the key features of the Eiffel Tower was its system of elevators. The glass-cage machines selected by Eiffel were made by Otis Elevator Company in the United States – as no French company was able to meet the technical specifications laid down – who helped to establish the tower as one of Europe’s major tourist attractions.
It opened to the public on May 15, 1889 and by the close of the Exposition on October 31st had received 1,896,987 visitors, including the British Prince of Wales, the inventor Thomas Edison, the actress Sarah Bernhardt, and the cowboy Buffalo Bill Cody. Since then, more than 250 million tourists have visited the tower.
Facts & Figuries
IT WAS DESIGNED AND BUILT BY THE FIRM EIFFEL ET COMPAGNIE. The commission was given to the consulting and construction firm owned by Gustave Eiffel, a bridge builder, architect, and metals expert. Eiffel also worked in the early 1880s on the Garabit Viaduct, a bridge in the Massif Central region that was, at the time, the highest bridge in the world. Prior to landing the World’s Fair project, he also helped design the Statue of Liberty.
THE PROJECT REQUIRED LOTS OF METAL (AND LOTS OF MANPOWER).
Three hundred steel workers spent two years, two months and five days, from 1887 to 1889, constructing the Tower. They used more than 18,000 individual metallic parts, 2.5 million rivets, and 40 tons of paint.
Other Attractions Nearby
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