Nine Intriguing, Little Known Facts about the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower. Photo by Alex Radich
Eiffel Tower. Photo by Alex Radich | Source

We Come to Paris for Inspiration And to Amass Impressions

Standing in a queue to visit the Eiffel Tower for two hours and sitting on the grass in the lawn Mars de Champs, I thought about everything that I had ever learned about this wonder of the world. To tell you the truth, not much. Pity. I was restricted to observe and to contemplate. It is sometimes advantageous to have a clear observance.

We visited Paris in the beginning of May, 2013. This is a three- or four-day holiday time in Russia and Ukraine. Thus, we met a lot of our fellow countrymen hanging around.

We are sitting on the lawn surrounded by dozens of small groups. Children kick a ball, young people drink wine, there are aspiring writers jotting down some revelations in their notepads. We see couples just jug and dream, looking at the Tower.

People travel here to amass impressions. Writers come here to settle, it allows them infinite inspiration for their future novels.

By Alex Radich
By Alex Radich | Source

My Creative Spark of Paris

All of the photos were taken by myself, Alex Radich. But I also make computer paintings. I use Wacom Tablet and a reference photo to work on a painting in Adobe Photoshop and Corel Painter X3 software programs.

It usually takes some 5-8 hours to complete the work. Please take a look at one of my painting, of the Eiffel Tower at night.

Mars de Champs Is a Place for Creativity. Photo by Alex Radich.
Mars de Champs Is a Place for Creativity. Photo by Alex Radich. | Source

Paris Is the City to Get Creative Ideas

Roman Payne wrote that different countries have their own peculiarities. If you are after saffron, you go to Iran or Spain. To buy opium, one should visit Burma or some other South-East Asia country. But to find ideas for your fiction stories, you’d better not procrastinate. Without further ado, go straight to Paris.

I should be jealous of the tower. She is more popular than me.

Gustave Eiffel

As far as inspiration is concerned, this Mars de Champs is the ideal place to obtain it. The environment is so calm and placid that as soon as you take your pen and notepad, the words will be immediately born in your head, to be accurately put down on paper.

Here it is, the grand, magnificent Tower, not further away than a hundred of steps ahead of us. Even though it is no more the highest in the world, as humanity have succeeded to furnish the world with much higher constructions, the popularity of the Eiffel Tower is unrivalled. This is due to its historical and architectural importance, due to a number of stories and legends. You think about Paris, and you remember about the Tower. You reflect about the Eiffel Tower, Paris comes to your memory. Yet, it was not the case some 125 years ago.

Photo by me, Alex Radich
Photo by me, Alex Radich | Source
Photo by me, Alex Radich
Photo by me, Alex Radich | Source

1. The Initiative of Gustav

In my favorite French movie with Pierre Richard when a journalist asked a rich guy how much money had he spent on his birthday, was it 100 million centimes?

- I do not count centimes, - told a rich guy.

When a special committee gathered to come to a decision about the main edifice to be erected for the upcoming World Fair in 1889 (this was a one hundred anniversary of the French Revolution), there were several viable options but the most daring project was introduced by Gustav Eiffel, the head of an architectural agency. He showed drafts of a gigantic structure based upon metallic beams and partitions, with a height of 324 meters. Yet nobody treated these drawings seriously till the final presentation when technical details were unfolded. The committee members found out that all the other projects had considerable flaws. They asked Gustav to make some adjustments and improvements to his sketches, and after a few iterations they accepted his plans. Still, there was a financial restriction. Messier Eiffel asked for six and a half millions franks, but got only small part of it, no more than one and a half million, less than a quarter of his budget. And he should take care of the rest. This did not stop him. Actually he paid from his own money. As a remuneration he would have the patent for using the tower and getting all the income from tourists admissions for twenty years.

Gustav was a man of action. Nothing could stop him anymore. He was resolute to start his project and complete it despite all the obstacles.

My Video of Visit to Paris

Photo by me, Alex Radich
Photo by me, Alex Radich | Source

2. Building the Tower without the AutoCAD Software

Eiffel asked his team of architects to compile all the technical drawings, and in a few months they had 1,700 general drafts and 3629 detailed ones. They had to be precise as calculations showed that even a small deviation of 0,1 mm, or 100 micron, can result in a failure. So they were as exact as modern 3D printers. This jewelry level is outstanding for a colossal construction in an epoch devoid of software calculations and architectural AutroCADs. Everything was done with bare hands and pencils. The construction required 18,038 working parts.

There was no drilling or sawing on the spot. All the details were cast in the steel-casting plant and brought by hundreds and thousands of trucks. There were two and a half million connecting parts only.

If some part did not fit in its place, it was sent back to the plant to be cast again.

Photo by me, Alex Radich
Photo by me, Alex Radich | Source

3. About Eiffel’s Suicide

The foundation and the concrete supports had to be especially precise to play their role. Gustave had to think ahead how to make them movable, so that he could change its position as needed after the completion of the first level. As soon as the first level was ready, engineers found out that this movement was indeed necessary. Thus the construction works stopped, and journalists had an excuse to produce a sensational news header:

Eiffel Is Mad and Has Been Put in an Asylum


Eiffel Suffered a Fiasco and Committed a Suicide

But these were no more than hogwash. This type of lies was there even before the era on Internet as we see on this example. But these prophecies proved false as the construction went on after a short break. The tower was growing very quickly, especially for the 19th century.

Security matters were among the top priorities. During two and half years of work there was only one casualty to 300 workers, a very low figure for that time.

Photo by me, Alex Radich
Photo by me, Alex Radich | Source

4. What Is Common between the Eiffel Tower and Egyptian Pyramids

Despite technical difficulties that Eiffel team had yet to conquer, there was far more formidable a threat when all the bohemian elite rose against Gustav’s project. Experienced writers and influential artists defended historical conservatism and architectural conformity of their favorite city.

‘We do not need this hellish metal tower! And for twenty years! It will cast its shadow over the Louvre and Notre Dame Cathedral, all of the central Paris! This loathsome creation will spoil all of our architectural traditions. – They argued with a saliva off their mouths. The opposition group included even people who took part in a commission that gave their consent to start the construction.

But Eiffel retorted that the Egyptian pyramids are even more bulky and have even less of graciousness and refinement. Yet they are still there, and nobody complains. After this episode the newspapers publish a picture of Eiffel leaning on his favorite tower, and from the other side, by his feet, - Egyptian pyramids.

Photo by me, Alex Radich
Photo by me, Alex Radich | Source

5. Mopassan’s Repartee

Guy de Mopassan was among the most powerful opponents of the construction. But after its completion people saw him coming for a dinner to the Tower’s restaurant on a daily basis. When they asked him how he changed his mind about the Eiffel Tower, he wittingly and with assurance replied: 'I am still on the opposite side, I abhor this tower. Thus, I come to dine here because it is the only place in Paris where I do not see it'.

He would dream of seeing its end.

Everybody believed that according to an official agreement there will be no more Eiffel Tower in 20 years. Yet, city governors did not demolish it. Not in twenty years, not in one hundred.

Photo by me, Alex Radich
Photo by me, Alex Radich | Source

6. Why the Eiffel Tower Was Not Demolished As in Initial Contract

Why did it survive? There were several reasons. First, this tower got very popular among tourists. And even though the visitors could not comfortably reach the top level as the elevators were not functioning yet, and to get to the top took about one hour, still the return of investment for Eiffel was great.

Local authorities found out quite soon that this tower is well suited for various communications. It was used during the World War II to broadcast important war news to all the citizens of Paris.


7. Why Hitler Failed to Conquer the Eiffel Tower

An interesting story happened during the times of fascist occupation of France. When Hitler finally reached Paris, he was exhausted. He want to ascend the Tower but it was discovered that French soldiers before their retreat cut all the elevator ropes. And all of the ascending mechanisms were destroyed, too. Hitler army had neither time nor necessary knowledge to repair it. Thus, Adolf could behold the Eiffel Tower from beneath only.

French poets wrote that ‘Hitler conquered France but could not conquer the Eiffel Tower’. And even swastika flag at the top of the Tower was too feebly connected so it was plucked away by wind.

Hitler was disappointed and furious. He ordered to blow up the Eiffel Tower but his generals did not carry out his injunction and persuaded him to let it alone. They argued that the Tower was useful for radio propaganda broadcasting and for army communications. At the outbreak of new battles nobody cared about it anymore. Thus, this wonderful construction survived again.

After Paris had been set free by the allied forces, Paris engineers repaired the elevators in a matter of hours, and the Tower broadcast a happy news for every Parisien’s heart.


8. The Most Ominous Danger

Contrary to what I could suggest as a danger, it is the wind that is the most serious threat to the Tower. It was clear at the time of construction, and Eiffel went a large way to calculate the resistance of wind properly. Thus, after 125 years the Tower is still there and there is no direct possibility of it falling down.


9. How Space Rays Were Discovered

Theodor Wulf estimated radiant energy parameters and came to a conclusion that radiation at the bottom and at the top of it differs. His experiments led to a discovery of the cosmic rays.

Eiffel Tower, Paris

What do you think about the Eiffel Tower?

  • It is one of the wonders of the world
  • I think it is quite impressive
  • Well, worth visiting once in a lifetime
  • It spoils the view of Paris
  • I have never heard of it
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