Eiffel Tower - Height, Timeline and Facts

Eiffel Tower - Height, Timeline and Facts

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When Gustave Eiffel’s company built Paris’ most recognizable monument for the 1889 World’s Fair, many regarded the massive iron structure with skepticism. Today, the Eiffel Tower, which continues to serve an important role in television and radio broadcasts, is considered an architectural wonder and attracts more visitors than any other paid tourist attraction in the world.

Designing and Building the Eiffel Tower

In 1889, Paris hosted an Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) to mark the 100-year anniversary of the French Revolution. More than 100 artists submitted competing plans for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars, located in central Paris, and serve as the exposition’s entrance. The commission was granted to Eiffel et Compagnie, a consulting and construction firm owned by the acclaimed bridge builder, architect and metals expert Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. While Eiffel himself often receives full credit for the monument that bears his name, it was one of his employees—a structural engineer named Maurice Koechlin—who came up with and fine-tuned the concept. Several years earlier, the pair had collaborated on the Statue of Liberty’s metal armature.

Eiffel reportedly rejected Koechlin’s original plan for the tower, instructing him to add more ornate flourishes. The final design called for more than 18,000 pieces of puddle iron, a type of wrought iron used in construction, and 2.5 million rivets. Several hundred workers spent two years assembling the framework of the iconic lattice tower, which at its inauguration in March 1889 stood nearly 1,000 feet high and was the tallest structure in the world—a distinction it held until the completion of New York City’s Chrysler Building in 1930. (In 1957, an antenna was added that increased the structure’s height by 65 feet, making it taller than the Chrysler Building but not the Empire State Building, which had surpassed its neighbor in 1931.) Initially, only the Eiffel Tower’s second-floor platform was open to the public; later, all three levels, two of which now feature restaurants, would be reachable by stairway or one of eight elevators.

Millions of visitors during and after the World’s Fair marveled at Paris’ newly erected architectural wonder. Not all of the city’s inhabitants were as enthusiastic, however: Many Parisians either feared it was structurally unsound or considered it an eyesore. The novelist Guy de Maupassant, for example, allegedly hated the tower so much that he often ate lunch in the restaurant at its base, the only vantage point from which he could completely avoid glimpsing its looming silhouette.

The Eiffel Tower Becomes a Permanent Feature of the Paris Skyline

Originally intended as a temporary exhibit, the Eiffel Tower was almost torn down and scrapped in 1909. City officials opted to save it after recognizing its value as a radiotelegraph station. Several years later, during World War I, the Eiffel Tower intercepted enemy radio communications, relayed zeppelin alerts and was used to dispatch emergency troop reinforcements. It escaped destruction a second time during World War II: Hitler initially ordered the demolition of the city’s most cherished symbol, but the command was never carried out. Also during the German occupation of Paris, French resistance fighters famously cut the Eiffel Tower’s elevator cables so that the Nazis had to climb the stairs.

Over the years, the Eiffel Tower has been the site of numerous high-profile stunts, ceremonial events and even scientific experiments. In 1911, for instance, the German physicist Theodor Wulf used an electrometer to detect higher levels of radiation at its top than at its base, observing the effects of what are now called cosmic rays. The Eiffel Tower has also inspired more than 30 replicas and similar structures in various cities around the world.

Now one of the most recognizable structures on the planet, the Eiffel Tower underwent a major facelift in 1986 and is repainted every seven years. It welcomes more visitors than any other paid monument in the world—an estimated 7 million people per year. Some 500 employees are responsible for its daily operations, working in its restaurants, manning its elevators, ensuring its security and directing the eager crowds flocking the tower’s platforms to enjoy panoramic views of the City of Lights.

Eiffel Tower Historical Facts and Pictures

Erected in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is an iconic symbol of France. This 324 meters high iron lattice tower was named after its engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel. Located in Paris this iconic tower, including its broadcast antennae is the tallest monument in France.

First Drawing of the Eiffel Tower

Facts about the Eiffel Tower : its name

The Eiffel Tower is a wrought-iron lattice tower on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It is named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. The assembly of the supports began on July 1, 1887 and was completed twenty-two months later. Constructed from 1887 to 1889 for the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially very much criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable icon in the world. The Eiffel Tower was inaugurated on March 31, 1889, as a preview of the Universal Exhibition in Paris, which commemorates the centenary of the French Revolution.

Gustave Eiffel its father and protector

Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) founded and developed a company specializing in metal structural work. The Eiffel Tower was his best achievement among many others. He devoted the last thirty years of his life to his experimental research by using the Eiffel Tower in wind resistance research, as a meteorological observation post, and as an aerial mast for the new science of radio broadcasting at that time.

When the initial designer of the Statue of Liberty’s interior elements died suddenly in 1879, French sculptor Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi hired Gustave Eiffel for his replacement. Already renowned as a structural engineer and railway bridge designer, Eiffel designed the skeletal support system to which the statue’s copper skin is affixed. On the artificial island of Swans located on the Seine, in Paris stands a replica of the Statue of Liberty since 1889, 3 years after the installation of the Statue of Liberty in New York.

19 things you never knew about the Eiffel Tower

It's impossible to think of Paris without picturing the Eiffel Tower.

The world-famous attraction turns 128 years old on March 31, marking the date it was completed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) to honor the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

The tower continues to make an impression today, drawing nearly seven million visitors from all over the world each year.

In honor of the Eiffel Tower's upcoming birthday, here are some fascinating facts about the iconic iron structure.


Meaning of "building" Edit

The earliest structures now known to be the tallest in the world were the Egyptian pyramids, with the Great Pyramid of Giza, at an original height of 146.5 metres (481 ft), being the tallest man-made structure in the world for over 3,800 years, until the construction of Lincoln Cathedral in 1311. From then until the completion of the Washington Monument (capped in 1884) the world's tallest buildings were churches or cathedrals. Later, the Eiffel Tower and, still later, some radio masts and television towers were the world's tallest structures.

However, though all of these are structures, some are not buildings in the sense of being regularly inhabited or occupied. It is in this sense of being regularly inhabited or occupied that the term "building" is generally understood to mean when determining what is the world's tallest building. The non-profit international organization Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), which maintains a set of criteria for determining the height of tall buildings, defines a "building" as "(A) structure that is designed for residential, business or manufacturing purposes" and "has floors". [5]

Tall churches and cathedrals occupy a middle ground: their lower areas are regularly occupied, but much of their height is in bell towers and spires which are not. Whether a church or cathedral is a "building" or merely a "structure" for the purposes of determining the title of "world's tallest building" is a subjective matter of definition (this article treats churches and cathedrals as buildings).

Determination of height Edit

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat based in Chicago uses three different criteria for determining the height of a tall building, each of which may give a different result. "Height of the highest floor" is one criterion, and "height to the top of any part of the building" is another, but the default criterion used by the CTBUH is "height of the architectural top of the building", which includes spires but not antennae, masts or flag poles. [5]

The Pantheon in Rome, finished in the early 2nd century AD, has a height from floor to top of 43.45 m (143 feet), [6] which exactly corresponds to the diameter of its interior space. The Hagia Sophia, built in 537 AD in Constantinople, reaches a height of 55 m (180 feet). The ancient Kushan stupa of Kanishka (now in Pakistan, near Peshawar), completed in the 2nd century CE, had a height of between 120m to 170m. The Chinese explorer Xuanzhang described it as the tallest building in the world in his book "Records of the western regions". The Sri Lankan stupa, Jetavanaramaya constructed in the century also measured 122m when constructed. It still stands today and measures 71m.

Hwangnyongsa, or Hwangnyong Temple (also spelled Hwangryongsa) is the name of a former Buddhist temple in the city of Gyeongju, South Korea. Completed in the 7th century, the enormous 9-story structure was built entirely with wood with interlocking design with no iron nails. It had a standing total height of 68 m (223 ft) or 80 m (262 ft), [7] making it the tallest structure in East Asia and the tallest wooden structure in the world at the time of its construction.

The Brihadisvara Temple in Thanjavur, India was completed by 1010. It is a 16-story tower measuring 66 metres (217 ft) in height. [8] It still stands to this day.

The eastern spires of the Romanesque Speyer Cathedral, completed in 1106, reach a height of 71.3 m.

Koutoubia Mosque in Marrakesh, Morocco. The minaret, 77 metres (253 ft) in height, includes a spire and orbs. It was completed under the reign of the Berber Almohad Caliph Yaqub al-Mansur (1184 to 1199).

Churches and cathedrals Edit

From the 13th century until 1894, the world's tallest building was always a church or cathedral. Old St Paul's Cathedral with its spire was completed in the 13th century. The central spire of Lincoln Cathedral surpassed Old St Paul's in the early 14th century. Lincoln Cathedral's spire collapsed in 1549, beginning a long interval where the status of world's tallest building was borne by shorter buildings. St. Mary's Church in Stralsund became the world's tallest building after the collapse of Lincoln Cathedral's spire. The 153 m (502 ft) central tower of St. Pierre's Cathedral in Beauvais was tallest from 1569 until it collapsed in 1573, making St. Mary's the tallest once again. In 1647, the bell tower of St. Mary's burned down, making the shorter Strasbourg Cathedral the world's tallest building.

It was not until the completion of the Ulm Minster in 1890 that the world's tallest building was again also the tallest building ever constructed, surpassing the original configuration of Lincoln Cathedral.

Years tallest Name Location Height Increase Notes
13th century–1300 Old St Paul's Cathedral London 149 m (489 ft) 0% Destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666
1300–1549 Lincoln Cathedral Lincoln 159.7 m (524 ft) 7.2% Tallest ever building until 1890. Spire collapsed 1549.
1549–1569 St. Mary's Church Stralsund 151 m (495 ft) −5.4%
1569–1573 St. Pierre's Cathedral Beauvais 153 m (502 ft) 1.3% Tower collapsed 1573
1573–1647 St. Mary's Church Stralsund 151 m (495 ft) −1.3% Bell tower burned down in 1647
1647–1874 Cathedral of Our Lady of Strasbourg Strasbourg 142 m (466 ft) −6%
1874–1876 Church of St. Nicholas Hamburg 147 m (482 ft) 3.5%
1876–1880 Rouen Cathedral Rouen 151 m (495 ft) 2.7%
1880–1890 Cologne Cathedral Cologne 157.38 m (516.3 ft) 4.2% Tallest structure Washington Monument from 1884
1890–present Ulm Minster Ulm 161.53 m (530.0 ft) 2.6% Tallest structure Eiffel Tower from 1889

The 159.7 m (524 ft) height of Lincoln Cathedral is disputed by some, [9] but accepted by most sources. [10] [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] The completion date for the spire is given as 1311 rather than 1300 by some sources. [16] Also the 149 m (489 ft) height of the spire of Old St Paul's Cathedral, destroyed by lightning in 1561, is disputed, for example Christopher Wren (1632–1723) judged that an overestimate and gave a height of 140 m (460 ft). [17]

The spire of Mole Antonelliana in Turin, completed in 1889, is claimed to have been 167.5 m (550 ft) tall [18] however, the upper part of the structure was destroyed by a 1953 tornado and rebuilt. The building was originally conceived as a synagogue, but sold during the construction and used as museum.

Various secular buildings are cited as first skyscraper, including:

    , [19] 16 m (52 ft) tall, 5 floors, built in 1797 , 24 m (79 ft) tall, 5 floors, first use of a passenger elevator, built in 1857 , [20] at least 40 m (130 ft) tall, 9 floors, built in 1870 , [20] 79 m (259 ft) tall, 9 floors, built in 1875, expanded in 1907 to 19 floors , [21] 40 m (130 ft) tall, 10 floors, built in 1883 , [22] 42 m (138 ft) tall, 12 floors, built in 1885 , [20][23] 10 floors, built in 1890 , [20] 68.3 m (224 ft) tall, 16 floors, built in 1891 , [21] 66 m (217 ft) tall, 17 floors, built in 1891

Following list of tallest buildings is based on the default metric of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), [22] that of measuring to the highest architectural element. Other criteria would generate a different list. Shanghai World Financial Center is not on the above list, but it surpassed Taipei 101 in 2008 to become the building with the highest occupied floor. Using the criterion of highest tip (including antennae), the World Trade Center in New York City was the world's tallest building from 1972 to 2000, until the Sears Tower in Chicago (which already had a higher occupied floor than the World Trade Center) had its antenna extended to give that building the world's tallest tip a title it held until the 2010 completion of Burj Khalifa. Petronas Towers and Taipei 101 were never the world's tallest buildings by the highest–tip criterion.

Years tallest Name Location Height Increase
1890–1894 New York World Building New York City 94 m (308 ft)
1894–1899 Milwaukee City Hall Milwaukee 107.89 m (354.0 ft) 13 %
1899–1908 Park Row Building New York City 119 m (390 ft) 12 %
1908–1909 Singer Building 186.57 m (612.1 ft) 57 %
1909–1913 Metropolitan Life Tower 213.36 m (700.0 ft) 14.4 %
1913–1930 Woolworth Building 241.4 m (792 ft) 13.1 %
1930 40 Wall Street 283 m (928 ft) 17.2 %
1930–1931 Chrysler Building 318.8 m (1,046 ft) 12.65 %
1931–1971 Empire State Building 381 m (1,250 ft) 19.5 %
1971–1973 World Trade Center 417 m (1,368 ft) 9.45 %
1973–1998 Willis Tower Chicago 442 m (1,450 ft) 6 %
1998–2004 Petronas Towers Kuala Lumpur 451.9 m (1,483 ft) 2.24 %
2004–2010 Taipei 101 Taipei 508.2 m (1,667 ft) 12.68 %
2010–present Burj Khalifa Dubai 828 m (2,717 ft) 62.61 %

Since 2010, Burj Khalifa has been the tallest building by any criterion. It has the highest architectural element, tip and occupied floor, and is indeed the tallest structure of any kind ever built, surpassing the (now destroyed) 646.38 m (2,120.7 ft) Warsaw radio mast.

Since the completion of the Washington Monument in 1884, the world's tallest building has not usually also been the world's tallest structure. The exceptions are 1930–1954, when the Chrysler Building and then the Empire State building surpassed the Eiffel Tower (to be surpassed in turn by a succession of broadcast masts, starting with the Griffin Television Tower in Oklahoma), and from 2010 with the completion of Burj Khalifa.

19 things you never knew about the Eiffel Tower

It's impossible to think of Paris without picturing the Eiffel Tower.

The world-famous attraction turns 128 years old on March 31, marking the date it was completed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair) to honor the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

The tower continues to make an impression today, drawing nearly seven million visitors from all over the world each year.

In honor of the Eiffel Tower's upcoming birthday, here are some fascinating facts about the iconic iron structure.

Built for the 1889 World’s Fair, the tower was originally a monumental gateway like the Arc de Triomphe, as well as a showpiece for new revolutionary iron-lattice architecture. It has since found a place in Parisian hearts - as well as proving useful as a communication tower - and has so far lasted 111 years beyond its scheduled dismantling date.

Opposition and Skepticism

The Tower is now considered a historical milestone in design and construction, a masterpiece for its day, the start of a new revolution in building. At the time, however, there was opposition, not least from people horrified at the aesthetic implications of such a large structure on the Champ-de-Mars. On February 14th 1887, while construction was ongoing, a statement of complaint was issued by “personalities from the world of arts and letters”. Other people were skeptical that the project would work: this was a new approach, and that always brings problems. Eiffel had to fight his corner but was successful and the tower went ahead. Everything would rest on whether the structure actually worked.

Some events along with quirky and unusual facts on the Eiffel Tower

Obviously wind always plays a major role with stability of tall buildings and this landmark in Paris is no exception. In fact, after the major storm in 1999, the Eiffel Tower moved from its original position by over 10cm!

However, there is a tower observatory at the top and when you visit the tower whilst you are on holiday in Paris, you can find out more about the oscillations of the top of the tower through wind and sun along with facts about Gustave Eiffel himself, the construction of the tower and much more. But for professionals and by prior arrangement well in advance you can also get to see other archives from the Eiffel Tower at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.

There was a printing press installed at the Eiffel Tower back in 1889 and you could purchase a copy with your own name inscribed on it, just to prove that you had been up the tower.

Yet, today, there is actually a post office where you can send off postcards with the unique Eiffel Tower postmark, so that, again, people will be able to verify that you have actually visited the Eiffel Tower!

Being such a world renowned monument and the icon of Paris and France, there have been numerous films, books, paintings, etc that have incorporated the Eiffel Tower such as Condorman, An American Werewolf, The Da Vinci Code and Even Rush Hour 3 with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker who were filmed doing stunts at the Eiffel tower whilst on location.

Talking of celebrities and famous people.. Because of its world renown, virtually anyone that is a somebody has visited the Eiffel Tower from Presidents and Prime Ministers through to Royalty from numerous countries.

Just some of the famous people you may recognise the names of, like Buffalo Bill, Thomas Edison, Sarah Bernhardt, the singer Edith Piaf, the first cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, Maurice Chevalier and many more have visited this landmark in Paris.

And this does not include the private visits that celebrities like Michael Jackson, Boris Yeltsin and Pierce Brosnan have had in different years gone by.

The Remarkable History of the Eiffel Tower

It&rsquos the most visited monument in the world and the purest symbol of Paris, but did you know that the Eiffel Tower was only intended to stand for twenty years? Contemporaries called it an iron monster and the shame of France, longing for the day when the tower would vacate the Parisian skyline. But though its status as the world&rsquos tallest man-made structure only lasted 41 years, this &lsquoIron Lady&rsquo has proved herself to be immortal. 130 years since the Eiffel Tower&rsquos spectacular inauguration, discover the story of Paris&rsquo best loved monument.

Want to discover this very same story in musical theatre form? The Tower of Monsieur Eiffel (La Tour de 300 mètres) is an all new musical reimagining of the incredible story behind the building of Paris&rsquo most iconic monument. Celebrate 130 years of history with an unforgettable night at the theatre.

Paris seeks to prove its prowess

Our story begins back in 1884, at the glorious height of the Belle-Époque period. Almost a hundred tumultuous years since the start of the French Revolution, the country was experiencing an economic, cultural, and technological boom. To mark the occasion of this momentous centenary, it was decided that Paris would host the 1889 Universal Exhibition, an elaborate display of scientific and technological advances, featuring contributors from across the globe. France&rsquos own industrial prowess was, naturally, to provide the backdrop &ndash and what better manifestation of that than a towering iron structure sitting right at the exhibition&rsquos grand entrance?

Monsieur Eiffel&rsquos Tower triumphs

The French government issued a call for structural plans, inviting architects to &ldquostudy the possibility of erecting an iron tower on the Champ-de-Mars with a square base, 125 metres across and 300 metres tall&rdquo. It was a challenge of Herculean proportions&hellip just the kind to tempt two ambitious engineers working under the auspices of the illustrious Monsieur Gustave Eiffel. Eiffel&rsquos company had already cut its teeth on high-profile projects in France and abroad, including the renovation of legendary Parisian cabaret house, the Paradis Latin, and even the construction of New York's Statue of Liberty. Out of a hundred designs submitted to the exhibition panel, only those of Eiffel and his engineers were judged sufficiently thought through to be feasible. Operation Bring Paris The World&rsquos Tallest Manmade Structure was go.

Make the &ldquoghastly dream&rdquo go away

But all was not yet rosy for Monsieur Eiffel and his team. Release of their architectural plans caused a public uproar, with many contemporaries issuing statements of horror and disbelief. Some considered the building of a tower at such height to be, quite simply, an impossible task. Others attacked Eiffel from an aesthetic standpoint, calling his tower an affront to French taste and the Parisian skyline. A &lsquoCommittee of 300&rsquo leading figures from the arts was formed to campaign against the build, led by legendary architect of the Paris Opera, Charles Garnier, and including the likes of writers Guy de Maupassant and Alexandre Dumas Jr. The committee&rsquos petition, &lsquoArtists Against the Eiffel Tower&rsquo, called on the Universal Exhibition&rsquos management to revoke plans for the &ldquogiddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe&rdquo.

On with the build

Despite these diverse detractors, construction of Eiffel&rsquos tower went ahead on 26 January 1887. Blueprints consisting of 3,629 detailed drawings guided the joining of 18,038 parts by 300 on-site employees, using 2.5 million rivets. All of that and the build was still successfully completed just 26 months after its launch, a record speed given the rudimentary methods of the time. On 31 March 1889, just hours after his team had put the finishing touches to the tower&rsquos structure, Monsieur Eiffel welcomed journalists and government officials for an inaugural tour. Those braving the climb to the top (lifts would not be installed for another three months) were rewarded by the site of Eiffel crowning his creation with its first tricolour flag.

The public changes its tune

Eiffel&rsquos tower was an instant success upon its opening to the public, and by the end of the exhibition had received almost 2 million visitors. Some critics reversed their opinions, others remained unconvinced. One of Eiffel&rsquos stauncher disparagers, Guy de Maupassant reputedly lunched daily in the tower&rsquos restaurant because only from there would the monument be invisible to him. But the ultimate sign of the tower&rsquos success was Paris&rsquo decision to let it stay. The city abandoned plans to tear the structure down after 20 years, when it proved its use as a telegraph pole for the first wireless transmissions. Eiffel&rsquos monument even served in the First World War: in 1914 the tower&rsquos radio transmitter blocked German communications, hindering them in their advance towards Paris.

Eiffel&rsquos Tower today

The Eiffel Tower held its title as the world&rsquos tallest building until 1930, when it was trumped by the Chrysler Building in New York. Contrary to the expectations of its contemporary critics, rather than bringing shame on its surroundings, the tower became Paris&rsquo foremost monument and most iconic emblem. Today it attracts approximately 7 million visitors each year, making it the most visited paid-for monument in the world. A true feat of human innovation, Eiffel&rsquos Iron Lady has become the jewel in Paris&rsquo architectural crown.

Now that you have the low down on the story of the Eiffel Tower, why not watch it all unfold in theatrical form at a gorgeous Parisian playhouse? The Tower of Monsieur Eiffel (La Tour de 300 mètres) is an all new musical theatre romp through the twists and turns in the fortunes of Paris&rsquo most iconic monument. Meet an all singing, all dancing cast of characters including Maupassant and Thomas Edison, Monsieur Eiffel&rsquos daughter Claire and, of course, her legendary father himself.

And the best news is, thanks to subtitles translated by the Theatre in Paris team, the show is 100% accessible for English speakers. You can catch the show in the heart of the Parisian theatre at Théâtre Mathurins.

Want to expand your insider Eiffel Tower knowledge even further? Discover other articles from the All Things Paris blog.