In 1885 planning had begun for the International Exposition, or World’s Fair of 1889, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution and the birth of democracy. The French wanted an impressive monument to be built to celebrate the greatness of France, since the World’s Fair was being held in Paris. Hundreds of design proposals were submitted. The fair’s commissioner chose Gustave Eiffel’s design, but it was so controversial that a petition was signed by over 300 protesting its construction. The extremely tall tower was to be constructed from Eiffel’s mathematical calculations, but some were worried about safety, despite design features such as guard rails and screens. Others simply viewed it as an eye sore that would overpower the city’s other, shorter landmarks such as the Arc de Triomphe (Archway of Triumph) and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Three hundred men worked for nearly three years to build the structure, which was originally built with the understanding it would stay for only 20 years. Parisians were eventually won over by its design and height. They loved the way it added a sense of grandness to the Parisian skyline and could not imagine the city without it. The tower was almost demolished in 1909, but was spared because its antenna could be used for military purposes. In fact, during WWI, it was said that the tower’s radio antenna played a part in capturing infamous spy Mata Hari.
The tower is 1,050 feet tall and there are 1655 steps from the ground level all the way to the top. There are more than 30 replicas of the Eiffel Tower around the world. The tower is painted every seven years, during which an estimated 60 tons of paint are used. This process takes between 15 and 18 months to complete. In 2003 the first floor of the tower was converted into an ice skating rink. There is also a restaurant on the first floor. Until 1930 the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world. Since the time of its construction over 200 million people have visited this French landmark that almost didn’t get built.
Explain why was the Eiffel Tower built.
How tall is the Eiffel Tower?
What can you do in the tower?
Would you like to visit the tower? Explain your reasons.
Where did the Eiffel Tower get its name?
Why did the French not like the idea of the Eiffel Tower?