Eiffel Tower Paris

Eiffel Tower History

Historycal Facts

When plans were first unveiled to build the structure for the 1889 World's Fair, the design was severely criticized by intellectuals and artists.

Gustave Eiffel's monument to mark the centenary of the French Revolution became as controversial a subject in Parisian society.

A group headed by such prominent nineteenth-century writers as Guy de Maupassant and Alexandre Dumas, as well as the architect of the old opera, Charles Garnier, lodged a formal complaint against the proposed plan, calling the design a disgraceful skeleton . . . "a gigantic factory chimney whose form will disfigure the architectural harmony of the city."

Despite the criticisms and the many labor strikes during the construction, the tower was built in a little over two years.

The architect, Gustave Eiffel, an innovator in iron design, had worked previously on bridges, the west train station in Budapest and the framework for the Statue of Liberty. He watched his biggest project to date go up like a gigantic work of Lego: 18,038 pieces of iron were fitted together with 2.5 million rivets by more than 100 workmen who functioned almost like acrobats and stuntmen. Not one man lost his life during the construction.

When the tower opened to the public in May, 1889, it was an instant success.

Eiffel was able to reimburse his creditors within one year, just through the admission ticket receipts from the 1,868,000 visitors.

Twenty years later, however, the lease for the land expired, and Eiffel lost control of his tower to the City of Paris.

The land was too valuable for such a frivolous structure, according to city council, and plans were made to turn the tower into scrap metal.

Fortunately for the Eiffel Tower, the First World War came along, and the tower was transformed into a military radio and telegraph centre. Its lease was renewed for another 70 years, and the tourists continued to flock to the structure.

But by 1980, thanks to mismanagement, the tower had fallen into serious disrepair. The structure weighed 9,700 tons in 1889, but had gained an extra 1,300 tons over the year from concrete additions and radio and television antennas. The elevators were worn out, and the entire structure was considered dangerous.

A new company was designated by the city to look after the tower, and renovations costing $38-million took place between 1980 and 1983. The extra weight was sawed off, and the most recognizable pieces, like parts of the original staircase, were publicly auctioned. New elevators were installed, and the structure itself was spruced up with a coat of fresh paint weighing five tons.

Today the Eiffel Tower is a successful business affair. Last year more than 4.5 million people visited it, a figure that has increased by a million since 1980, and the structure is once again financed almost solely by admission receipts. Three restaurants have been added, including the respected Jules Verne that now requires a three-month wait for a reservation. The tower houses a post office, money exchange and auditorium. And every year, a million post cards are sold on the first floor.

Eiffel Tower Stages - Click to enlarge the photo

The Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower in Paris

Eiffel Tower Paris
Eiffel Tower detail

The Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower