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Eiffel Tower of Paris

Updated on June 8, 2015
Tour Eiffel Construction Etapes
Tour Eiffel Construction Etapes | Source

Who really had the idea ?

The Eiffel tower, was built at the time of the World fair and the centennial of the French Revolution. It should be the quintessential symbol of Paris and of the brillance of french industrial engineering, and was designed to be a temporary structure. The construction of the Tower was undertaken in 1887 and it was inaugurated in March 1889.. The original inventors of the Tower are two engineers of the team Eiffel, Emile Nouguier (french) and Maurice Larchevêque. They established the plans with the architect Henri Sauvestre who had the idea to install platforms accessible to the public. For the engineers, it was a question of proposing a pylon of 984 feet (300 meters). The architect modified the project by giving it its current shape, with its arches and its livable platforms .

The history kept the prestige of the realization only to the profit of Gustave Eiffel whose merit was to deposit the patent (1884), then to give his approval for the realization. When it engaged in the project of the tower, the company Eiffel had already a consequent know-how in the construction of metal works : the railway station of Budapest, the frame statue of Freedom in New York, a bridge on Douro in Portugal, and the viaduct of Garabit. On January 28, 1887 began the building of the tower. The assembly of the tower ended on March 30, 1889. Restaurants where on the first flloor, to "satisfy concrete human material need". On the second floor, there was the newspaper le Figaro and a telegraph office from which il was possible to send messages around the world.

 Eiffel Tower Restaurant
Eiffel Tower Restaurant

Some Figures

The tower will be lighted by 90.000 gas burners (!), replaced by 4000 incandescent lamps, in 1900. In 1957, a TV antenna is added to the top, carrying the height with 1063 feet (324 meters) . The cost of construction was of 7.400.000 francs. During the World Fair of 1889, the receipts were 6.500.000 F. The subsidy of the town of Paris was of 1.500.000 francs . The total duration of work was 2 years, 2 months and 5 days. The number of workers necessary to assemble the tower was of 121, and we have to to add the 326 workers which worked within the Eiffel company. One needed 18.000 different parts, assembled by 2.500.000 rivets including 1.050.846 posed on the building site. The tower have 1710 steps. The weight of the tower was at the time of 7.112 tons . There are 3 observation platforms, at 200, 400 and 900 feet.

When the weather allows it, the limits from the point of view are 37 miles (60 kilometers) to north, 43,5 mi (70km) in the west, 34,2 mi (55km) towards the south and 40,4 mi (65 km) in the east (Conversion table). In 1900, the 90 000 gas burners installed to illuminate the tower in 1889 are replaced by 4 000 incandescent lamps. In 1937, the lighting is provided by fluorescent tubes and 750 projectors oriented to the summit of the Tower. In 1957, an antenna is added that increased the height up more than 320 metres. In 2000, two antennas are added, the height is now 324 meters. Nowodays, the tower’s two Otis Duo-lift elevators travel at speeds of 500 feet per minute (2.5 meters per second) and can carry 40 passengers up and 40 passengers down simultaneously.

The Tower by night with the approval of  Laurent Veyretout
The Tower by night with the approval of Laurent Veyretout | Source

Eiffel Tower and Art

Just after the Eiffel Tower was buit, a lot of french artists, as Charles Gounod, Guy de Maupassant, Alexandre Dumas jr, François Coppée, Leconte de Lisle, William Bouguereau, Charles Garnier , Paul Verlaine, Guy de Maupassant, criticized the Tower. However, the tower was gradually part of the Parisian landscape.

Painting : As soon as 1888, the Tower was painted by Georges Seurat even before it was finished and by Paul-Louis Delance . From 1910, a series of paintings made by great painters such as le Douanier Rousseau, Paul Signac, Pierre Bonnard, Maurice Utrillo, Marcel Gromaire, Edourd Vuillard, Raoul Dufy, Marc Chagall, Maurice Utrillo, Henti Riviere..and many contemporary artists, such as Laurent Veyretout.

In Nineteenth-century European Art by Terry W. Strieter wrote " The oil painting "La Tour" (1910-1911) by Robert Delaunay. The artist, a member of of the "Cubist pantheon, by 1909 developed his own expression of radiant and elegant forms loosely based on Paul Cézanne's shattering of forms. After a series of canvases of St Severin church, in 1910 he turned his attention to the Eiffel tower, where he stressed the immateriality of the structure. Delaunay (1885-1941) willfully distorted the tower by breaking it into multifaceted and multicolored surfaces. Already, in this work of 1910-11, he began to introduce rainbow patterns of color that were forerunners of his later studies of pure light and color..."

Litterature and theatre : Jean Cocteau wrote "les mariés de la Tour Eiffel" (the newlyweds of Eiffel Tower), played in 1921 at the theatre des Champs Elysées, a surrealist manifesto

In "Ivan reception of Italian Futurism and French orphism" John J. White write " For artists the Eiffel tower is not only a cult-object of modernism, but one of those images that the Paris-based Cubists and orphists could always make more of than the Italian Futurists were able to. Famous contexts in which the Eiffel Tower was celebrated include delaunay's influential cycle of paintings and his "Du cubisme à L'art abstrait"... In one of his Calligrammes, Cendrars gave an influential lecture on the subject of the Eiffel Tower and it also figures in poems by Apollinaire, Huidobro, Beauduin, de Torres and in Branco ... Once more we are dealing with a widespread topos where it would be well-nigh impossible to disentangle the well-attested orphist dimension of the Tower itself from the Futurist cult of the telegraphic..."


  • 1897 Panorama by Louis Lumière , the fist time we can see Eiffel Tower in a movie
  • 1900 Images de l'exposition 1900. by Georges Méliès
  • de 1913 à 1914 Fantômas by Louis Feuillade irst works of fiction with Eiffel Tower in series of 5 action films featuring , the ancestor of all evil manipulators film, directed
  • En 1925, Paris qui dort, (paris sleeping) . by René Clair First fiction with the Eiffel Tower for main character. There, the Eiffel Tower is a magical place which offers protection to a group of Parisian
  • 1927 La Tour by René Clair a 14-minute documentary showing all aspects of the Eiffel Tower.
  • 1930, La fin du monde, (the end of World) by Abel Gance
  • 1939, Ninotchka by Ernst Lubitsch with Greta Garbo, living a love story increasing as she climbed the floors of the Eiffel Tower. Most views of the Eiffel Tower were made in the studio and not on the spot. The film will combine the image of a bottle of champagne at the Eiffel Tower, image, which will be often reflected in Hollywood films within the framework of Paris.
  • 1942, Casablanca by Michael Curtiz, the Tower is part of the love story between Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman.
  • 1949, The man on the Eiffel Tower by Burgess Meredith, the first film adaptation of a novel by Georges Simenon. with Charles Laughton as Superintendent Maigret.
  • 1951, The Lavender Hill Mob, by Charles Crichton with Alec Guinness who stoled gold and make it transformed into miniatures ofEiffel Tower, so that gold goes unnoticed
  • 1953, The War of the Worlds by Byron Haskin shows the Eiffel Tower destroyed for the first time.
  • François Truffaut was a great collector of objects representing the tower. We'll find it in several of his films
  • 1959 Les 400 Coups de François Truffaut
  • 1968 comme dans Baisers volés de François Truffaut
  • 1980 Le Dernier Métro by François Truffaut with Catherine Deneuve and Gérard Depardieu
  • 1983 Vivement dimanche by François Truffaut where Fanny Ardant uses a miniature Eiffel Tower to knock someone
  • En 1985,A View to a Kill) by John Glen. fourteenth spy film of the James Bond series. In a sequence of the film, Roger Moore, James Bond pursues Grace Jones in the stairs of the Eiffel. Tower.
  • 1996 Independence Day by Roland Emmerich with Jeff Goldblum, and Will Smith where they show that Eiffel Tower was destroyed
  • 1998 Armageddon by Michael Bay with Bruce Willis, & Ben Affleck where we can also see that Eiffel Tower was destroyed.

How the Tower was kept alive

In 1898 (5 of november) happened the first broadcast radio signals, headed by Eugene Ducretet, from Eiffel Tower to Pantheon (4km). Eugene Ducretet was one of the pioneers of radio .
in 1903 a radio link is established with the strong near Paris, then with the East of France, one year later.
In 1906, The tower is used as a telegraph relay station with an emitting radius of 3000 km, which will ensure its survival.
In 1921 the first public radio show in Europe, will be broadcast from antennas installed on the Eiffel Tower.
We can say that the broadcasting programs saved the Eiffel Tower!

Some point of view

Gustave Eiffel said about the Tower " The fist principle of architectural aesthetics prescribes that the basic lines of a structure must correspond precisely to its specified use... To a certain extent the tower was formed by the wind itself".

In "All men are brothers" Mahatma Gandhi , who went to Paris in 1890, said about Eiffel Tower " I remember that Tostoï was the chief among those who disparaged it. He said that the Eiffel tower was amonument of man's folly, not of his wisdom. Tobacco, he argued, was the worst of all intoxicants, inasmuch as a man addicted to it was tempted to commit crimes which a drunkard never dared to do; liquor made a man mad, but tobacco clouded his intellect and make him build castles in the air. The Eiffel tower was one of creations of a man under such influence. There is no art about the Eiffel Tower. In no way can it be said to have contribuate to the real beauty of the exhibition. Men flocked to see it and ascend it as it was a novelty and of unique dimension. It was the toy of the exhibition. So long as we are children we are attracted by toys, and the tower was a good demonstration of the fact that we are all children attracted by trinkets. That may be claimed to be thepurpose served by the Eiffel Tower."

In "Riding the Waves of Culture" by Alfons Trompenaars, Charles Hampden-Turner, the authors say that "In the western world, a bureaucratic division of labor with various roles and functions is prescribed in advance. These allocations are coordinated at the top by a hierarchy. If each roleis played as envisioned by the system then tasks will be completed as planned. One supervisor can oversee the completion of several tasks; one manager can oversee the job of several supervisors; ans so on up the hierarchy. We have choosen the Eiffel Tower in Paris to symbolize this cultural type because it is steep, symmetrical, narrow at the top and broad at the base, stable, rigid, and robust. Like the formal bureaucracy for which it stands, it is very much a symbol of the machine age. Its structure, too, is more important than its function...

The boss in the Eiffel Tower is only incidentally a person. Essentially he or she is a role. Were the boss or her to drop dead tomorrow, someone else would replace him or her and it would make no diffrence to your duties or to the organization's reason for being... "

In my point of view, the Eiffel Tower is more than a structure, and if it is a symbol, it is more the symbol of Paris and France. And if you ask a foreigner what Eiffel Tower makes him think about, he will surely answer "Paris, Lido, Folies Bergères, Le Louvre, Champs Elysées". That means that the symbol in the head of people is "pleasure". In paris, the Eiffel Tower is associated with all the important events : 14th of July (National Day), new year, year 2000, music day... Do you imagine New-York without it's apple ? Texas without derricks ? Chicago without Taste ? You could get the blues, and so in Paris without our "Old lady". British have their own, Elyzabeth, so pretty with her hats, and we have our queen of Paris, so pretty with her antenna! But may be you think that the old lady is only a heap of scrap iron that does not move? Visit the old lady by a windy day! You'll sway by almost five inches! Even a young lady doesn't often sway so good! May be you think that lady is too old to have yet lovers? It is as if somebody says " Barack Obama has nos suporters"! Come in Paris during the beautiful days, and you'll see how many admirers the old lady has . Some are really creazy for her : in 1954 a lover climbed on her, surely to whisper some love words to her antennas. In 1984 two lovers reached the seventh heaven, at the 2nd deck, flowing with their parachute to reach the ground realities. And i'll don't speak about all those who did the same.. without parachute! Do you know a lot of old ladies, except the Queen of England, who have always so many admirers?

The man who sold the Eiffel tower

Have you ever heard that somebody tried to sell the Golden gate? the London Tower? The kheops Pyramid? Surely not! But it happened for the Tower! The name of the clever seller was Victor Lustig, born in Bohemia in 1890. In 1925, while he was in Paris, he noticed, in a newspaper an article that caught his attention. The article went on to speculate that the tower might even have to be torn down, or even completely rebuilt, Therefore, he decided to rid Paris of this scrap heap! (video) The exploits of Victor Lustig were included in the book "the man who sold the Eiffel Tower".

To implement his scam, he gave himself the title of 'Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Mail and Telegraphs'. With Dapper Dan, his "secretary" they mailed letters to the five leading scrap metals dealers in Paris.Lustig met them in Hotel Crillon. The buyers were told that it had become too costly to repair the Eiffel Tower and that the 7,000 ton steel structure would be sold to the highest bidder to be torn down. Lustig asked them to keep the meeting and its purpous secret to prevent a public outcry. He talked to each client and choosed Monsieur Poisson the most anxious to get ahead. As Mr. Poisson had doubts, Lustig asked him a bribe, which tranquillized the buyer because at the time bribe were a common practice in the french public administration.

Mister Poisson paid for "his" tower, Lustig and his accomplice fled France for Austria. Poisson was too embarrassed to tell anyone what happened!.Thereafter, trying once more to sell the tower (!) But feeling himself in danger he fled in the USA.

There he was once in business with Al Capone! He proposed Capone to invest $50,000 in a swindle that he claimed he was working on. Lustig promised to double the $50,000 in sixty days.

After the sixty days, he went to Capone and said the swindle had failed. Before Capone expresses his anger, Lustig gave him back the $50,000. Capone was so impressed by Lustig's "honesty" that he rewarded him with a thousand dollars. Just what Lustig expected Capone to do!

Apparently Lustig did not accept the state monopoly on currency, sold dollars making machines. In 1935 he was caught and sentenced to twenty years in Alcatraz prison where he died, after eleven years, from pneumonia. While in prison he was protected from harm by orders from another prisoner... Al Capone!

© 2015 Discover the World


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