Eiffel tower facts tell us about this iconic symbol of Paris, France and the world. While the tower is located in Paris, people all around the world know about this famous structure. In recognition, UNESCO has named the Eiffel Tower as one of its World Heritage Sites.
Before the Eiffel Tower was constructed, the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., capital of the United States, was the tallest man-made structure in the world. Eiffel Tower facts teach us that during its construction, which was completed in 1889, the Eiffel Tower became the tallest man-made structure, surpassing the height of the Washington Monument.
In 1930, the Chrysler Building was built in New York City, becoming the tallest structure in the world at the time. The Eiffel Tower had held the title for 41 years! Later Eiffel Tower facts show that in 1957, an antenna was attached which, depending on how you determine the height of a structure, made the Eiffel Tower taller than the Chrysler Building.
To this day, at 1,063 feet, or 324 meters, the Eiffel Tower is the second tallest structure in France. The tallest structure in France is actually the world’s tallest bridge, Millau Viaduct, which is 1,125 feet, or 343 meters, from the base to the top of one of its masts.
Gustave Eiffel Did Not Design the Eiffel Tower – Maurice Koechlin Did
This is perhaps the most shocking of Eiffel Tower facts: Gustave Eiffel, the famous architect for whom the structure was named, did not actually design the Eiffel Tower. The initial design was sketched by Maurice Koechlin in May of 1884, while he was working at home.
Eiffel Tower facts reveal that Koechlin was a senior engineer working for Eiffel’s architecture firm at the time. Koechlin was working with another architect in the firm, Emile Nouguier, to design a monument for the 1889 Exposition Universelle. The exposition was planned as a World’s Fair to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the French Revolution.
In the margin of the first drawing by Maurice Koechlin, you can see other monuments from around the world that he used for inspiration or comparison. Included in the monuments are the Statue of Liberty and the Arc de Triomphe. This is an amazing document for interesting Eiffel Tower facts and it shows that Koechlin was endeavoring to design something world class from the start.
It Took 3 Years of Lobbying to Approve the Eiffel Tower in 1887
Eiffel Tower facts surprise us again with the evidence that Gustave Eiffel did not immediately like Maurice Koechlin’s design. Nouguier and 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 to polish the design. The three men took out a patent on the design and presented it to Eiffel once again, in the fall of 1884. This time, the design caught Eiffel’s eye, and he bought the patent and began exhibiting the design.
Eiffel Tower facts tell us there was a long road from this point to actually getting approval for the project. In 1885 Eiffel presented the design to the Société des Ingiénieurs Civils as a symbol of the dawning Industrial Age and the accomplishments of the previous century, as well as a monument to the French Revolution of 1789.
Two more years passed, and there were changes in government. Eiffel continued to lobby for the project and it was brought to review by a commission in 1886. Eiffel Tower facts show that the commission examined Eiffel’s proposal, along with competing proposals for the monument.
What happened next is one of the great Eiffel Tower facts for kids. Eiffel’s proposal was chosen because it was the most practical and most well planned. The other proposals seemed impossible or were not completely thought through. Perhaps all the time lobbying for the design paid off: when it came up for review, everything could be explained.
Public Funds Only Covered 1/4 of the Cost of the Eiffel Tower
When Eiffel signed the contract to build the Eiffel Tower, he did so personally, and not on behalf of his company. The public funds granted covered only 1/4 of the total needed to build the tower. As part of the agreement, Eiffel would receive all income from any commercial use of the tower during the exhibition and for the next 20 years.
Eiffel Tower facts show that Eiffel setup a separate company to manage the operations and income of the tower. He put up half the capital that was needed to establish the company. For Gustave Eiffel, the tower really did represent a monumental investment.
Eiffel’s Firm Produced 5,329 Drawings of the Eiffel Tower
Once the Eiffel Tower was approved, Eiffel Tower facts show that an intense planning phase began. During the course of the planning, Eiffel’s firm produced 1,700 general drawings, and 3,629 detailed drawings. The drawings captured the 18,038 pieces that make up the tower.
Bear in mind all of this was being done by hand, before the 1900s. The Eiffel Tower was a symbol of the Industrial Age as it was happening.
Eiffel Tower facts show that construction began in January of 1887 after a location had been determined. The massive concrete and limestone foundations of the Eiffel Tower were the first things to be put into place.
The tower would be assembled in a modular fashion. Sub-assemblies would be completed at one of Eiffel’s facilities in the suburbs of Paris, and then brought to the site by horse and cart for assembly into the finished structure. Eiffel’s tower was ahead of its time in more ways than one. Modular building has increased in popularity in recent years – it only took the world over 100 years to catch up!
Gustave Eiffel Compared His Tower to the Pyramids of Egypt
While it took Eiffel some time to warm to Koechlin’s design, Eiffel Tower facts show that he became an ardent supporter once he actually decided to build the tower. While it is considered by many to be a work of art today, at the time, many artists and writers protested against the building of the tower based on the drawings that were exhibited.
As the Industrial Age began there was tension between artists and engineers in the field of architecture. Eiffel Tower facts show that a group of artists launched a campaign claiming that the Eiffel Tower was too much engineering and not enough art to be considered good architecture.
Eiffel responded by defending the monumental nature of the work, comparing it to the Pyramids of Egypt. It was an apt description. At the time, the Pyramids were still some of the largest man-made structures on Earth.
Eiffel Tower facts reveal that Gustave Eiffel was not too concerned about the criticism, as the project had already been approved. Now, these objections seem like nothing more than a distant memory as many artists, engineers and everyday people look to the Eiffel Tower for inspiration.
A Conman Named Victor Lustig Sold the Eiffel Tower… Twice!
As the Eiffel Tower became a great symbol, it was well-known throughout the world. One conman, named Victor Lustig, would use this worldwide recognition to sell the Eiffel Tower, not once, but twice!
In 1925, after World War I, the Eiffel Tower was not in the best condition. Keeping it painted to prevent rusting proved to be a difficult task. Eiffel Tower facts show that Lustig developed his con based on this information. He held a secret meeting of scrap dealers and, using forged government stationary, offered to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap!
The scrap dealer that Lustig targeted, Andre Poisson, believed he was a corrupt government official and gave him a bribe along with the money for the tower. Lustig and his accomplice fled to Vienna with a suitcase full of money.
Poisson was so embarrassed that he did not press charges. A month later, Lustig couldn’t help himself, and he returned to Paris to try the scheme again. This time, the person he tried to scam went to the police, but Lustig managed to get away without being arrested.
Only One Person Died in the Construction of the Eiffel Tower
Our Titanic Facts tell us that this massive ship, which was built many years later, led to the death of many people before the ship even hit the water. Deaths in large-scale construction projects were a sad reality at the beginning of the Industrial Age.
Eiffel Tower facts tell us that Gustave Eiffel was very serious when it came to the safety of the more than 300 people working on-site on the tallest structure man had ever built at the time.
After criticism of the wood scaffolding that was built to support the structure and the men working as they put the pieces in place, Eiffel’s firm installed creeper cranes that would actually move up the tower as construction progressed.
Other safety measures put in place included guards and screens. As a result, only one person died in the construction of the Eiffel Tower. This is one of the sad Eiffel Tower facts, but it could have been much sadder if the working conditions on the Tower were not as forward thinking as the design itself!
The Eiffel Tower Was Supposed to Be Torn Down in 1919
Eiffel Tower facts show that the original contract for the tower stipulated that it should be torn down after 20 years, in 1919. At this point, the ownership of the tower would pass from Eiffel to the City of Paris. Part of the original design requirements said that the tower had to be easily dismantled or demolished. This explains in part why the tower was built in a modular fashion.
Emerging wireless technology and the importance of the tower for making weather observations saved it from the scrap heap. From 1919 on, there were many instances until about the 1950s were it seemed the tower might be torn down. One example from historical Eiffel Tower facts teaches us that during World War II, as the Germans were being driven from Paris, Adolf Hitler ordered one of his generals to demolish the tower. Thankfully, the general refused, and the tower stands to this day.
Over 200,000,000 People Have Visited the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower facts reveal that elevators or lifts were installed in the tower shortly after its debut. This is a good thing! Walking to the top took early visitors hours. The lifts have been modified, upgraded and replaced many times over the years.
Communications equipment in the form of radio antennas and TV broadcast equipment were added to the Eiffel Tower as those technologies emerged in the 1900s. Additional lights and spotlights have been added to the tower, so it lights up the Paris skyline at night.
Visitors to the Eiffel Tower include daredevils who have staged stunts, such as bungee jumping from the tower. The Eiffel Tower has become a must-see destination in Paris and, at the last count, more than 200,000,000 people had visited the tower!