Eiffel Tower

"(We) protest with all our force, with all our
indignation, in the name of unappreciated French
taste, in the name of menaced French art and
history, against the erection, in the very heart of
our capitol, of the useless and monstrous Eiffel
Tower. . . . Is Paris going to be associated with
the grotesque, mercantile imaginings of a
constructor of machines?"

The Eiffel Tower, upon completion on March 31, 1889, was so perfect that the Scientific American of June 15, 1889, published that it was, "without error, without accident, and without delay." Eiffel's magnificent tower was opened by the Prince of Wales, who later would become King Edward VII of England in 1889. The Eiffel Tower was then the tallest structure in the world at 984 feet (300 meters).

The Eiffel Tower was built for the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889 commemorating 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, and Dumas the Younger - protested its construction. Others were proud that their country owned the tallest building in the world and still others were shocked and amazed at the height and power of the tower. In spite of these various emotions, Eiffel thought that his tower was a beautiful masterpiece.

At 300 metres (320.75m including antenna), and 7000 tons, it was the world’s tallest building until 1930. Other statistics include:
2.5 million rivets.
300 steel workers, and 2 years (1887-1889) to construct it.
Sway of at most 12 cm in high winds.
Height varies up to 15 cm depending on temperature.
15,000 iron pieces (excluding rivets).
40 tons of paint.
1652 steps to the top.

The tower has three platforms. A restaurant, the Jules Verne is on the second platform. The top platform has a bar, souvenir shop, and the office of Gustave Eiffel. From its platforms - especially the topmost - the view upon Paris is superb. It is generally agreed that one hour before sunset, the panorama is at its best.

The tower was almost torn down in 1909, but was saved because of its antenna - used for telegraphy at that time. Beginning in 1910 it became part of the International Time Service. French radio (since 1918), and French television (since 1957) have also made use of its stature.

During its lifetime, the Eiffel Tower has also witnessed a few strange scenes, including being scaled by a mountaineer in 1954, and parachuted off of in 1984 by two Englishmen. In 1923 a journalist rode a bicycle down from the first level. Some accounts say he rode down the stairs, other accounts suggest the exterior of one of the tower’s four legs which slope outward.

However, if its birth was difficult, it is now completely accepted and must be listed as one of the symbols of Paris itself.