Gustave Eiffel

All about the Eiffel Tower

The Fast Pass Team has made a selection of what you need to know about the Eiffel Tower, icon of the City of Light.

Construction Date

The Eiffel Tower was completed on March 31st, 1889. The construction of this behemoth lasted more than two years. If you’d like to relive the construction of the Tower, check out this video.

 The Tower’s Creator

Gustave Eiffel, an exceptional engineer and builder, is the father of the Eiffel Tower but he is not responsible for the original design!

One of his employees, an engineer called Maurice Koechlin is the true designer of this very symbol of Paris. Gustave Eiffel wasn’t even very enthusiastic about the first of Koechlin’s sketches. Nevertheless he finally decided to use his employee’s ideas to build what would later become his greatest success.

Why build the Eiffel Tower ?

In 1889, the city of Paris was chosen to host the Universal Exhibition. It wanted to build a monument more than 300 meters high to celebrate the opening of the exhibition. Gustave Eiffel’s design was chosen from more than 100 monuments. Interestingly, the design had been previously rejected by the city of Barcelona which didn’t find the construction very beautiful.

Height of the Eiffel Tower

Today, the Eiffel Tower is exactly 324 metres high. It is taller today however than at the time of its construction back in 1887. Back then, it measured 312 metres from its base to its highest point, the top of the flagpole adorned by the French flag. Today, it is 12 metres taller because of the antennas that were added to the top of the tower.

The Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world until 1929 when the Chrysler Building in New York was completed.

 

Highlights

The Eiffel Tower was initially built for a period of 20 years. It was supposed to have been dismantled in 1909 after the universal exhibition of Paris but this never came to pass due to its importance as a telecommunications platform during the First World War.

Interesting facts

One man managed to sell the Eiffel Tower… twice!

Victor Lustig managed to sell the Eiffel Tower to two different investors. Too embarrassed by their naivety, they never brought charges against him.

A woman married the Eiffel Tower!

In 2007, Erika Labrie got married to the Eiffel Tower. She now goes by the name Mrs Erika Eiffel, wife of the Eiffel Tower.

Parisians haven’t always liked the Tower

Like many extraordinary projects, the Eiffel Tower has had many detractors. In the beginning, the Eiffel Tower provoked an outcry amongst Parisians. On February 14th, 1887, “Le Temps” published a manifesto signed by many personalities from the world of arts and literature protesting against its construction. At the time, a petition was signed criticising the iron behemoth, citing it as “useless and frightful” and comparing it to the tower of Babel. Guy de Maupassant supposedly ate lunch every day at a café located just below the Eiffel Tower, claiming it was the only place in the city from where it could not be seen.

On its completion the Eiffel Tower immediately became the tallest building in the world!

Reaching a height of more than 312 metres, the Eiffel Tower became the tallest building in the world on March 31st, 1889. It would keep that title for 41 years before losing it to the Chrysler Building in New York.

Both of these have long been outdone however by even taller buildings like the Burj Kalifa in Dubai or the Willis Tower in Chicago.

The Eiffel Tower helped the allies during the First World War

In 1914, the radio operator at the Eiffel Tower successfully blocked German telecommunications, giving the allies a significant tactical advantage.

For the next five years, the Tower would be used as a communications centre for listening to enemy transmissions.

Hitler tried to destroy the Eiffel Tower

When the allies were about to liberate Paris in August 1944, Hitler ordered General Dietrich Von Choltitz to raze the Eiffel Tower along with the rest of the French capital. Fortunately, the general disobeyed the Führer’s orders having considered him to have gone mad.

Feats and exploits at the Tower

The Eiffel Tower has attracted many sporting, artistic and scientific achievements, but has also been host to some incredible and crazy challenges.

On its opening in 1889, the newspaper “Le Figaro” installed a printing house on the second floor where it printed off its daily editions. Visitors who bought their newspaper could enter their name and thus show the daily newspaper as a “certificat de montée” or proof of having climbed the tower. In 1984, two Britons secretly jumped from the second level by parachute. In 2007, a pool installed at the base the Tower allowed visitors to get beginner’s lessons in scuba diving. In 2010, Taïg Khris jumped off the Tower in roller blades onto a ramp waiting below. Click here to see his video.

To find out more about the Eiffel Tower, the best way is to visit her.