One of the fascinating things about the Eiffel Tower is that it was inspired by 19th-century bridge design, utilizing bridge engineering technology in its construction. The germ of the idea that eventually became La Tour Eiffel was a design fantasy of a couple of engineers working in Gustave Eiffel's office. At that time, most of Eiffel's company's projects involved designing and building iron bridges all over the world.
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The engineers began (more on them later)to wonder about placing two mirror-image bridge span sections back-to-back and then standing it upright. They concluded that, if the sections were long enough, they could created the tallest structure in the world. (In fact, at 300 meters the Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world for four decades.) As luck and fate, would have it, soon after this idea came to the engineering duo, the French government sent out a call for proposals to create a monument to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, to be completed in time for the 1889 World Exposition that would celebrate the occasion.
And the rest is history…
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The tower opened in 1889 at the Exposition Universelle, staged to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
The elevator trip from the second level to the top level was originally made in two parts, with passengers having to change cars on a open catwalk halfway up the narrow part of the tower. We hope they didn't look down.
It was in 1999 that the hourly sparkly light display was added to the tower, to celebrate the new millennium. It takes 20,000 bulbs to create this effect.
The Eiffel Tower light display is copyrighted under French law, so that it is illegal to publish unapproved photographs of it (in France, at least).
The Eiffel Tower was instrumental during the Battle of the Marne in 1914, when signals sent from the tower directed French troops to the front lines.
Two million people visited the Eiffel Tower at its inauguration during the Exposition Universelle of 1889. Since then, more than 250 million visitors have joined them. (Not all at the same time, mind you.)
Until 2020, the ET welcomed over 9 million visitors a year, making it the most popular monument in the world. What lies in store for the Eiffel Tower in a post-Covid world? Stay tuned.
Boat, bus, bike or Metro – there are many ways to get to the Eiffel Tower from wherever you are in Paris. Here are a few Metro tips:
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