Paris is a city that’s bursting at the seams with beauty. It’s internationally renowned for its contributions to fashion, beauty, architecture, and of course, all of the arts, including the culinary. It’s packed full of breath-taking landmarks, but there are few monuments in the world as iconic as the Eiffel Tower.
It’s been imitated several times by architects all over the world, but the original still has a certain je ne sais quoi that simply can’t be duplicated. That’s probably what makes it one of Paris’ most Instagram-able places.
There are a lot of things that everyone knows about the Eiffel Tower, but there are even more things that a surprising amount of people don’t – and this list covers them both!
Updated by Gabriel Kirellos, November 8th, 2021: The Eiffel Tower is a historical and monumental landmark in Paris and globally. The tower is more than 133 years old, and exciting facts keep emerging about it. We have updated this list to include some additional unknown and mind-boggling facts about Eiffel Tower, including the engraved names, the post office, and how a despised dictator tried to destroy it.
13 10. It Was Built As An Entrance For The 1889 World’s Fair
In honor of the French Revolution’s hundredth anniversary, Paris hosted the 1889 Exposition Universelle, known in English as the 1889 World’s Fair. It was set to be hosted in the heart of the city at the Champ de Mars, a large public park, and an elaborate entry arch was to be erected to serve as the main exhibit.
Artists from all over the nation feel in their concepts for a structure. Still, the project fell into the hands of a construction firm owned by Gustave Eiffelan architect and bridge-builder who also helped design the Statue of Liberty.
12 9. The Current Design Was Not The Original Concept
The iconic structure that is the modern Eiffel Tower is not what was initially pitched to Gustave Eiffel. One of his senior engineers, Maurice Koechlin, was the principal designer for the project, with some help from Emile Nouguier, a fellow engineer, and Stephen Sauvestre, the leader of the company’s architectural department.
The initial sketches that were shown to Eiffel were rejected. His vision of the tower was an elaborate and detailed structure, and he found that the design plans were too minimal. In 1884, he approved of the design, and construction began in 1887.
11 8. There Were Protests Against Its Construction
It’s one of the world’s most beloved landmarks now, but believe it or not, the Eiffel Tower was met with protests at the time of its conception. The government was presented with a petition that contained over 300 signatures, which read, “We, the writers, painters, sculptors, architects, and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigor and all our indignation, in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel tower.”
Additionally, there were concerns among nature lovers that the tower’s height could potentially interfere with the birds that flew over Paris.
However, none of these things made much of a difference, and the tower ultimately became one of France’s most beloved and iconic structures.
10 7. It Was Only Meant To Stand For 20 Years
The tower was built to give the French an opportunity to show off their industrial capabilities while celebrating the centennial of the French Revolution at the World’s Fair in 1889. It was intended to be a temporary monument that would only stand for 20 years before being torn down .
Citizens of Paris and most of the world learned about and saw the structure and fell in love with it. The antenna at the top was useful for telegrams, so the plans to tear it down never came to fruition.
9 6. The Size Of The Tower Changes With The Weather
When constructing the tower, Gustave Eiffel used lattice wrought iron to prove that it could be just as strong as stone while also being lighter. The end result is a structure that is made up of approximately 7,300 tons of iron.
Including its antenna, it is approximately 1,060 feet (320 meters) tall on an average day, but that’s subject to change depending on the weather. The sun also causes it to expand and grow approximately 6 inches taller, while the cold will cause it to shrink by around 6 inches.
8 5. The Tower Has A Wife
One thing that couldn’t ever be said about the Eiffel Tower is that it’s a boring place. In recent years, it’s one of the world’s most popular spots for proposals, and in 1923, the future mayor of Montmartre, Pierre Labric, rode a bicycle down the first level of stairs. It’s basically always had something interesting going on.
However, all of those things pale in comparison to what took place in 2007. A woman from the United States, Erika LaBrie, was married to the Eiffel Tower and changed her name to Erika Eiffel. She first came into contact with the Eiffel Tower in 2004 and experienced an immediate attraction to it.
7 4. It Was The World’s Tallest Man-Made Structure For Over 40 Years
Even without factoring in its antenna, the Eiffel Tower stands at approximately 984 feet or 300 meters. It was unprecedented in its soaring height and widely considered a living testament to the advancements in modern architecture and engineering of its time.
It remained the tallest man-made structure in the world for approximately four decades, from its construction in 1889 to 1930. The building that ultimately dethroned it was the Empire State Building, which stands at around 1,250 feet, or 381 meters, without taking its tip into account.
6 3. There Is A Secret Apartment On The Third Level
Gustave Eiffel slipped a small apartment for himself into the design for the third floor of the tower. It’s fully furnished, including a grand piano, and attached to a few laboratory areas he used to conduct various experiments.
He received several offers from people interested in spending even just a single night in the Eiffel Tower, but he turned all of them down. He used the apartment as a quiet place to carve out some time for himself and host some impressive guests, including Thomas Edison, the phonograph inventor.
Eiffel’s apartment is still unavailable for a rental by the public, but it has been displayed for visitors, with much of the original furnishing still there.
5 2. Over 1,700 Steps (Elevators Travel 64,000 Miles Per Year)
If the soaring height of the Eiffel Tower seems intimidating from the ground, just wait until you see it from one of its three observatory platforms. They are located at approximately 200, 400, and 900 feet, connecting stairs, and elevators.
The only catch is that none of the elevators travel directly from the bottom to the top of the tower. Instead, they stop on the first and second platforms. It’s recommended that visitors avoid getting off on the first level and head straight for the elevator to the top, which is located on the second one.
It’s a lot easier to see the second and first floors on the way back down!
4 1. It Has Been “Sold” By A Con Artist
Victor Lustig was a remarkably skilled artist from Austria-Hungary. He was infamous across Europe for his scams, but he truly made a name for himself when traveling to Paris in 1925. After reading a newspaper article that went into detail about the city’s struggle of maintaining the Eiffel Tower as it was becoming increasingly more expensive, he saw an opportunity to make some quick cash.
He a group of scrap metal dealers gathered and convinced them that the city could no longer afford the structure’s costs. To keep them from seeking any further information, he claimed that the city could not publicly announce the plans to sell the tower for scrap metal due to fear of public outcry.
Surprisingly, he found a buyer: a man named André Poisson. After he received his payment, he fled to Austria. He later returned and attempted to pull the same trick again, but this time, he was reported to the police and had no choice but to move to the United States to avoid being arrested.
3 Hitler Ordered The Tower To Be Destroyed
During World War II, Germany occupied France. Hitler ordered back then that the Eiffel Tower be destroyed. However, no one listened to him. Moreover, the Tower’s elevator cables were cut by resistance fighters in France to force the Nazis to climb the Eiffel stairs and put their flag.
2 The Eiffel Tower Is Home To A Post Office
On the first floor in the Eiffel Tower, a tiny post office can be found next to the gift shops. People can have the chance to get a ‘postcard’ and a stamp to mail it from the post office in the Eiffel Tower. The mail will be delivered with the unique postmark.
1 Names Of Scientists Cover The Eiffel Tower
There are 72 names of French scientists engraved on the Eiffel Tower. For some time, the engraved tributes were covered up. However, some restoration efforts made them visible again. Visitors who take their time to explore the tower can see some of the names cut into the iron, such as Dumas, Foucault, and Perrier.
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