The History of the Eiffel Tower

Prior to World’s Fair, Gustave Eiffel envisioned a tower about three hundred meters high, made of stone. Around June 1884, it was Noguier and Koechlin that decided that the tower should be very tall.  At the top, the girders would come together and be separated at the bottom.  Eiffel did not agree with Koechlin’s idea in the beginning.  He thought it was too basic (“Eiffel Tower”).   He ordered Koechlin to include ornate flourishes and implied that the tower needed more class.  He thought ornamental features around many parts of the structure should be a great finishing touch (“Eiffel Tower”).

The construction of the Eiffel Tower took a little over two years.  Construction began in January 26, 1887 and ended March 31, 1889.  There were 18,038 pieces of iron used for this monument and two million and a half rivets (Eiffel Tower).  The first few pieces of the tower were originally assembled by bolts, but were thermally replaced one by one with rivets.  The first floor was completed in 1888.  The second floor followed in June 1888 and the higher floors began in December 1888.  There were fifty engineers hired and 5,300 drawings made.  There were around 300 workers that were employed on site.  Eiffel was very serious about safety precautions.  The use of movable staging, guard-rails, and screens were rare back then.  Only one man died during construction, as opposed to other construction sites at the time, where many men were injured due to few safety regulations(Construction of the Eiffel Tower).

At the time of its’ unveiling, in March 1889, the tower was nearly 10,000 feet high and was “the tallest structure in the world – a distinction it held until the completion of New York City’s Chrysler Building in 1930” (Eiffel Tower).  The tower was used as a laboratory to carry out science experiments. Barometers, anemometers, and lightning conductors were instruments that were installed in the tower.  The tower was even later used as a weather station.  These experiments saved the tower.  Originally, the tower was to be dismantled twenty years after the World’s Fair; however, even with harsh opposition, the Eiffel Tower has remained.

In addition to being known for the Eiffel Tower, the 1889 World’s Fair was also known for electricity. Throughout the city of Paris, the use of lights could be seen. “It marked the beginning of modern urban life” (The World Exposition of 1889 in Paris).  Using electricity allowed for visitors to visit the World’s Fair in the evening.

In 1889, the cost to build the tower was £260,000, about $1.5 million, which with inflation today would be about $34 million (Calore). The majority of the money was provided by Eiffel and the French State (The Eiffel Tower).  Due to the curiosity of many visitors during and after the World’s Fair  (The Eiffel Tower), the amount of visitors during the first few months after the opening of the tower, covered the costs and made Eiffel a wealthy man.  At first, the only section open to the public was the second floor platform.  Later on, all three levels were available.  People would have to use stairways or one of eight elevators to reach each floor.

During the World’s Fair and subsequently after, visitors upon visitors have marveled at the architectural wonder. There are differing reports, but approximately thirty million people were in attendance at the 1889 World’s Fair (Chappell). It is estimated that seven million people visit the Eiffel Tower each year (Eiffel Tower).  The amount of tourists who visit the Eiffel Tower makes it one of the most distinguishable structures in the world.

 

Read more about the Eiffel Tower.

– Jada Jones

 

Works Cited

Chappell, Urso. “Exposition Universelle De 1889.” ExpoMuseum. N.p., 2009.      Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <http://www.expomuseum.com/1889/>

<https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/collection/tour-eiffel?v.view=grid>.

“Eiffel Tower.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013.

<http://digital.lib.umd.edu/worldsfairs/record?pid=umd:1017>.

The World Exposition of 1889 in Paris. Queensland: Caloundra City Life Saving Club Inc, n.d. PPT.

V, Ryan. “The Eiffel Tower.” The Eiffel Tower. N.p., 2009. Web. 24 Oct. 2013.

Photos

<https://www.google.com/culturalinstitute/collection/tour-eiffel?v.view=grid>.

The New York Times photo archive

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