90+ Eiffel and Eiffel Tower facts – part 1

90+ Eiffel and Eiffel Tower facts

“Je vais être jaloux de cette tour. Elle est plus célèbre que moi.” – Gustave Eiffel

    1. Completed on March 31, 1889, the tower was the world’s tallest man-made structure for 41 years until the completion of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930.
    2. It is 324 meters tall (including antennas) and weighs 10,100 tons.Eiffel Tower
    3. It was the tallest structure in France until the construction of a military transmitter in the town of Saissac in 1973. The Millau Viaduct, completed in 2004, is also taller, at 343 meters.
    4. It is possible to climb to the top, but there are 1,665 steps. Most people take the lift. 45 people fit in the elevator at a time allowing the transportation of 1700 people per hour. The lifts travel a combined distance of 103,000 km a year – two and a half times the circumference of the Earth.
    5. For weight reasons no more than 5000 people are allowed on the tower at any given time.
    6. In 1925 Victor Lustig, a con artist, “sold” the tower for scrap metal using fake documents from the city of Paris which said the tower was to be demolished.
    7. During cold weather the tower shrinks by about 15 centimeters or six inches. During hot weather the side facing the sun expands more than the shady side and thus the tower twists away from the sun up to 18 centimeters.
    8. It is about 3°C cooler at the top than on the ground. This has nothing to do with the tower itself, but is a regular phenomenon of losing about -0.55°C for every 100 meters in altitudeEiffel Tower
    9. Earlier detractors of the tower who signed a protest petition were: Charles Garnier, architect of the Opéra, Gounod the composer and the writers Guy de Maupassant, Dumas the younger, Leconte de Lisle and François Coppée.
    10. Gustave Eiffel, the engineer and architect behind the tower, was also involved in a disastrous attempt by the French to build a canal in Panama, and his reputation was badly damaged by the failure of the venture.
    11. Gustave Eiffel died while listening to Beethoven’s 5th symphony.
    12. Since its opening almost 250 million people have visited the tower. In the first week, May 1889 there were already 30,000 visitors.
    13. Today the tower welcomes almost 7 million people a year, making it the most visited paid-for monument in the world.Eiffel Tower
    14. The construction took two years, two months and five days – 180 years fewer than Paris’s other great attraction, Notre Dame. No one died during construction despite dangling at great heights during frigid winds.
    15. During the German occupation, the tower’s lift cables were cut and the tower closed to the public. Nazi soldiers attempted to attach a huge swastika to the top.
    16. In 1944, as the Allies approached Paris, Hitler ordered Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to demolish the tower, along with other parts of the city. The general refused thank heavens.
    17. Repainting the tower, which happens on average every seven years (every 5 years for the upper part and 10 years for for the whole tower), requires 60 tons of paint and takes 25 painters with 1500 brushes, 1000 pairs of gloves and 5000 sanding disks plus 50 kilometers of security ropes and 5 acres of nets, 18 months to complete.
    18. William Overstreet Jr., a former captain in the U.S. Air Corps, famously flew his combat plane P-51 Mustang beneath the Eiffel Tower in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1944 while chasing a German plane. His bravour lifting the spirits of French troops on the ground. In 2009, he was presented France’s Legion of Honor. Read more
    19. The tower has been painted 18 times since it was constructed.
    20. The paint color has varied over the years. Since 1968 it is a sort of bronze. The shade is lighter at the top so that we perceive that it is all one color. Previous colors were reddish-brown, yellow ochre, brown and grey.

      Eiffel Tower
      Seen from Suresnes
    21. The tower was the main exhibit at the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair), held to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution.
    22. The tower appears in the 1985 Bond film A View to a Kill. There is a scene in the Jules Verne restaurant and a fight in the stairway.
    23. There are a number of Eiffel Tower replicas around the world, including one in Las Vegas and one at the Window of the World theme park in Shenzhen, China. Smaller ones appear at several other amusement parks in Blackpool England, Paris Texas and Paris Tennessee and in Romania, Mexico, Russia and Bolivia just to name a few.

      Eiffel Tower
      Las Vegas, Nevada. Gene Shea, photographer
    24. The tower was originally a temporary structure scheduled to be demolished right after the universal exhibition, but there was not budget for demolition, so it stayed in place. Eiffel kept coming up with new uses for his tower, such as wireless telegraph transmitter, to prevent demolition and it eventually became a permanent structure.
    25. The tower played a part in the Allied victory at the First Battle of the Marne, in 1914. One of its transmitters jammed German radio communications, hindering their advance.
    26. And again in 1944 during the liberation of Paris, American troops were stationed on the 3rd floor to transmit their radio messages to the arriving allied forces.
    27. There is a plaque on the third floor of the Eiffel Tower that reads: “Here on 25 August 1944, at the order of Capitain Sarniguet, the Sergeants Henri Duriaux, Pierre Noël, corporal Charles Rouard and engineers Marcel Conversy, André Taillefer, from the Paris Fire brigade hoisted the French flag in the still occupied capital.Eiffel Tower
    28. The Eiffel Tower is a member of the Federation of the Great Towers of the World which regroups 50 towers which are symbols of their city or country and have observation platforms and antennas. The Eiffel Tower is the oldest member, the Burj de Dubai is the tallest and the UFO of Bratislava the smallest. http://www.great-towers.com
    29. French car manufacturer Citroen used the tower as a giant billboard between 1925 and 1934 – the company name was emblazoned on the tower using a quarter of a million light bulbs – and was recorded as the world’s biggest advertisement by the Guinness Book of Records. The name Citroen was readable 40 kilometers away.
    30. In 2008 a woman with an objects fetish married the Eiffel Tower, changing her name to Erika La Tour Eiffel in honor of her ‘partner’.
    31. The tower comprises 18,000 metallic parts, joined together by 2.5 million rivets.Eiffel Tower
    32. To mark the 125th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower’s completion the British Virgin Islands launched a special tower-shaped $10 coin.
    33. A number of aviators have flown an aircraft under the arches of the tower. In 1926 Leon Collet was killed after a failed attempt.
    34. The tower sways around six to seven centimeters (2-3 inches) in the wind.
    35. Gustave Eiffel kept a small apartment on the third floor for entertaining friends. It is now open to the public.

More facts in part 2 and part 3 of this series

Eiffel Tower

“La France sera la seule nation dont le drapeau aura une hampe de 300 mètres.” – Gustave Eiffel