Eiffel Tower – French Revolution Icon

The Eiffel Tower was built in the period 1887-1889, to celebrate 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Paris is recognized by this tower. The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII of England, opened the tower. Based on the advertisement in newspaper, 700 design proposals were submitted and the design of Gustave Eiffel’s was unanimously chosen. The tower was then named after him. It was the world’s tallest building until 1930 with 300 metres (320.75metres including antenna) in height. It weighed about 7000 tons. It reflects the toil of 300 steel workers. It has 1652 steps. The antenna on top of it was used for telegraphy at that time.

In 1889, Eiffel Tower was used as a laboratory for scientific measuring and experimenting. It would have been torn down after twenty years of existence but was preserved due to the scientific activities that were carried out on the tower. During its lifetime, the Eiffel Tower witnessed a few strange scenes. It was climbed 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. The tower has three platforms. A restaurant on the first platform, the Jules Verne is on the second platform. The top platform has a bar, souvenir shop, and the (recently restored) office of Gustave Eiffel. The view from the top platform is superb. Just one hour before the sunset, the view is very good.

On its hundredth birthday (1989), a huge painting reflecting its first century of life was created. Its one hundred years of historic and scientific events, famous visitors, and incredible stories about Eiffel Tower were made public on this auspicious day. The tower was made of 15,000 iron pieces excluding the rivets. It was painted with 40 tons of paint to protect it from oxidation. It was repainted seventeen times since it was built, an average of once every seven years. It has changed color several times, passing from red-brown to yellow-ochre, then to chestnut brown and finally today, its color is bronze, slightly shaded off towards the top to ensure that the color is perceived to be the same all the way up as it stands against the Paris sky.

All the elements which were required for the construction of this tower were made in a factory at Levallois-Perret on the outskirts of Paris, where Eiffel’s company was located. Each of these elements were prepared with an accuracy of about tenth of a millimetre and then put together, in pieces of around five metres each. A team of four men were required to fix a rivet. One to heat it up, another to hold it in place, third to shape the head and the fourth to beat it with a sledge hammer. Each corner edge of the tower rests on its own supporting block by applying a pressure of 3 to 4 kilograms per square centimeter. The tower was assembled using wooden scaffolding and small steam cranes.

The lightning system on the Eiffel tower consists of 352 sodium yellow – orange tint lamps which are placed on inside of the tower structure, reflects its beauty. The lamps are cooled to prevent overheating and a heating system is activated automatically when the temperature drops below zero degrees centigrade. Recently, it has been decorated with two light beams. They are visible from a distance of eighty kilometers. They are activated each evening when the tower lights up. The beacon is composed of four marine type motorized projectors which are operated by automatically piloted computer programs. This beacon resonates the image of Gustave Eiffel’s Tower as a universal and symbolic landmark.

With almost 6 million people a year today, the Eiffel Tower is a real crowd pleaser. At the crossroads of the entire world, more than 200 million visitors have come since its construction. It’s not surprising when you consider the Eiffel Tower is the monument that best symbolizes Europe. It’s also the one, tourists prefer.