90+ Eiffel and Eiffel Tower facts
Part 2 of a 3 part series
Part 1 – facts 1 through 35
Part 3 – facts 73 through 102
“Je vais être jaloux de cette tour. Elle est plus célèbre que moi.” – Gustave Eiffel
- The Eiffel Tower and Margaret Thatcher share the same nickname – La Dame de Fer (“The Iron Lady”).
- In 1960 Charles de Gaulle proposed temporarily dismantling the tower and sending it to Montreal for Expo 67. The plan was rejected.
- The names of 72 engineers, scientists and mathematicians are engraved on the side of the tower, each of whom contributed to its construction.
- In the computer game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, the tower is toppled by an airstrike.
- There are 20,000 light bulbs, 5000 per face, on the Eiffel Tower to make it sparkle every night. The sparkling bulbs were installed by hand over 5 months by 25 climbers for the year 2000.
- Souvenir sales began immediately when the Tower opened: mini towers in wood, ivory, porcelaine, steel and zinc, drawings of all sorts, handkerchiefs, chocolat and marzipan, cigar boxes, bells, inkwells, candle holders, pendants, earrings and one show piece 99 centimeters high encrusted with forty thousand diamonds worth 1.9 million dollars. Wonder what happened to it?
- At the end of the night from 1 am to 1:10 the golden projectors are turned off and the tower is lit just by sparkles creating a third lighting effect.
- Ever wanted to build your own Eiffel Tower? There’s a LEGO set, number 10181, which contains 3,428 bricks.
- It costs €17 to take the lift to the top, but you can walk to the second floor for just 7€.
- The majority of visitors (10.4%) are from France, followed by Italy and Spain (8.1% each), USA (7.9%), Britain (7.4%), Germany (5.8%) and Brazil (5.5%).
- Pierre Labric cycled down the stairs of the tower in 1923. He won a bet, but was arrested.
- There is a full-time crew of 38 people that take care of the gardens below the Tower.
- The current lighting was created in 1985 by Pierre Bideau. It is composed of 336 projectors with high pressure sodium lamps to create the yellow-orange glow.
- Gustave Eiffel’s name was originally Alexander Gustave Bonickhausen dit Eiffel. Eiffel is a transposition of “Eifel”, the German region where his grand-father had lived before moving to Paris in about 1710. Eiffel was easier for the French to pronounce. Gustave officially changed his surname to simply Eiffel in 1880.
- In 1912 Franz Reichelt, an Austrian-born French tailor nicknamed the Birdman, inventor and parachuting pioneer, tested his own design of a wearble parachute by jumping off the Eiffel Tower’s first floor. He died of a heart attack during his attempt.
- 1989: For the 100th anniversary celebration of the tower Philippe Petit walked across the Seine on a tightrope between the palais de Chaillot and the tower. The same tightrope walker also crossed Niagara Falls and between the two World Trade Centers in New York among his many exploits.
- Mr Eiffel also designed the viaduct at Garabit, 1882 à 1884; the bridge for the aqueduct de l’Avre which brings water from Normandy to Paris still today, the Eiffel footbridge in Bordeaux, many train stations and building structures and interior elements of the Statue of Liberty.
- Songs :
“La Tour Eiffel” by Charles Trénet
“La Tour Eiffel sidérale” by d’Arthur H
“Paris-Tour Eiffel” by Jacques Hélian
“La tour de Monsieur Eiffel” by Jean Nohain
- There have been about 400 suicides since the tower first opened
- The light display on the Eiffel Tower is copyrighted as an artistic work and so even though the Tower itself is old enough to be in the public domain, an obscure clause in EU copyright rules means that taking and sharing photos of the tower with the lights on is a copyright violation that could lead to a fine. Read more
- Gustave Eiffel’s portrait and the Eiffel Tower were on the 200 franc note from 1995-2002.
- AJ Hackett bungy jumped from the second floor of the Eiffel Tower in 1987. This jump brought bungy jumping to the masses and the world’s media. AJ Hackett set up his bungy jump company at another Eiffel structure the Souleuvre Viaduct in Normandy.
- 1959: The 35th million visitor was a 10 year old French boy. Gustave Eiffel’s grandson presented him with the keys to a Simca P60. Neither his father or mother knew how to drive.
- The initial design for the Eiffel Tower was not sketched by Mr Eiffel but by Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier in May of 1884 as an entry into the contest for the Universal Exposition. Koechlin was a senior engineer working for Eiffel’s architecture firm at the time. Gustave Eiffel did not immediately like the design. Koechlin asked Stephen Sauvestre, the head of the architectural department in Eiffel’s firm, to add some embellishments to the design. Sauvestre contributed the decorated arches at the base, a glass pavilion on the first level, and other additions. The men took out a patent on the design and presented it to Eiffel again, in the fall of 1884. This time, the design caught Eiffel’s attention, and he bought the patent for the equivalent of the huge sum of 400,000€.
- Only one person died during the construction of the Eiffel Tower, an excellent safety record for a two year project where workers fought frigid winds.
- Gustave Eiffel also worked on aerodynamics, propellers and projectiles eventually building a single wing fighter plane.
- In the first race up the stairs in 1905 there were 227 racers. The winner was a milkman named Forestier who climbed the 729 steps to the second floor in 3 minutes 12 seconds. His prize was a bicycle.
- The Eco-trail Paris 2017 race ended on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower after 80km through the Yvelines, Hauts-de-Seine and Paris
- The Vertical of the Eiffel Tower race 2017 was won by running up the 1665 steps in just under 8 minutes by the three time winner Piotr Lobodzinski from Poland and 9 minutes 34 seconds by Australian Suzy Walsham who set a new record.
- The Eiffel Tower military post was the first regularly emitting radio station in France. 30 radio stations are still broadcast via the tower’s antenna.
- Gustave Eiffel’s father was an officer in Napoleon’s army and ended his career in Dijon where he married Gustave’s mother who was a business woman dealing in coal
- A baker named Sylvain Dorgnon climbed the stairs to the second floor on stilts of 1m20 in 1889. He apparently also walked on stilts from Paris to Moscow covering 60 kilometers in a day. Sylvain was formerly a sheepherder in the Landes area of France. It was customary for bergers to use stilts to walk among the sheep, allowing them to move quickly and easily. The Figaro de la Tour newspaper office on the Eiffel Tower’s second floor reported “Dans notre petit pavillion,… il monta sur ses échasses… Vêtu de son costume traditionnel en peau de mouton, il se promena avec gravité dans notre imprimerie, puis sur la [deuxième] platform, à la grande stupéfaction des badauds, qui se demandaient bien pourquoi, à cent quinze mètres d’altitude, un homme pouvait avoir besoin de se grandir ainsi.”
- 2004: Xavi Casas, the Andorran mountain bike champion climbed the tower steps on a specially equipped bike. He hopped from step to step up to the second floor and back down, twice, without ever putting a foot down in just over 34 minutes. This was a Guinness world record.
- Famous Americans visited the Tower during the Universal Exhibition the first year included: Buffalo Bill along with Annie Oakley and the Indians from the Wild West Show and Thomas Edison who brought his phonograph to dinner held in Eiffel’s private apartment at the very top
- The beacon on the top of the tower can be seen from 80km away. The beacon was first put into place in 1947 for airline navigation. In 1970 the Civil Aviation Industry did not want to invest in fixing a beacon that was no longer needed as there was no more air traffic over the city center. The beacon was replaced with just a standard red light. However for the year 2000 the beacon was reinstated. The beacon is in fact 4 motorized lights that rotate 90° and are synchronized by a computer.
- For the inauguration in 1889 10,000 gas lamps and two projectors lit the tower. The blue, white and read beam at the top was the most powerful in the world.
- In 1907 the tower was fitted with a giant clock where the numbers were 6 meters tall.
More facts coming shortly, keep your eyes on this space!
“La France sera la seule nation dont le drapeau aura une hampe de 300 mètres.” – Gustave Eiffel