La Tour Eiffel: A History


The Eiffel Tower: From Reject to National Symbol

To kick off my very first post about the history of Paris, I figured that this post should be about the most recognizable monument in Paris: the Eiffel Tower.

It was built for the World's Fair

The World's Fair is a large exposition hosted by different nations every few years. It has been held in places like Chicago, Paris, London, Sydney, etc. In 1889, Paris hosted the World's Fair for its fourth time and it fell on the 100th anniversary of the storming of the Bastille (another story to come). Gustav Eiffel was approved to build the tower for the World's Fair as the main entrance to the fair.

People did not want it built

Many people did not approve of the building of the Eiffel Tower. They believed that it did not follow the famous architecture of Paris and that it was too modern and ugly. Some even compared it to an ugly metal chimney. But Gustav Eiffel won the battle and many people learned to love the structure. 

It opened to the public in 1889

In 1889, all those who were complaining about the tower were finally able to see what all the fuss was about. People all around the world came and visited Paris and they got a first glimpse of the tallest building in the world. That title was then passed on to the Chrysler Building. Those daring enough were able to climb. People climbed the stairs all the way to the top, which is something that people cannot do today. Those brave souls!

It was going to be taken down 

Many buildings in the World's Fair are eventually taken down. They are made to make their city look temporarily marvelous for the curious attendees and then once the fair is over the buildings are torn down and used for scraps. And this is exactly what happened in Paris. The lease for the land was only set for 20 years because it was sitting atop some prime real-estate. But eventually World War I broke out and they put the tower to use instead of destroying it.

It has been used as a military radio

This is what saved the Eiffel Tower from destruction. It became a giant metal antenna in the eyes of the army and during World War I  it was used to communicate to soldiers or broadcast to civilians. But in World War II the French cut the lift cables to prevent the Germans form using the tower. 

It weights 10,000 tons

It stands at 300 meters tall (324 with the antenna) and weighs A LOT! Since being refurbished in the 1980s it had lost some weight in order for it to last longer and not topple over. Much of the cement and cables used for the days of military radio were taken out in order to improve longevity. Today tourists can see it in its (mostly) original form, aside from the new elevators.

Book elevator tickets ahead of time to avoid long waits (1+ hours). In the high season you will still have to wait but at least it won't be for hours. for visitor information and ticket sales

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