Monday, March 2, 2009

my 10 most fascinating facts about the Eiffel Tower

For the two nights and two days I was in Paris in the summer of 2004, I did what most people do: fall in love with the Eiffel Tower. Such was my infatuation that I went to the tower not once, not twice but three times. Like a student, I also did my research on the Eiffel Tower. Here are 10 factoids which I found truly captivating.

1. For commercial purposes only. The Eiffel Tower is privately owned and as a capitalist venture, has always been operated for profit. It is the most visited paid monument in the world with more than 6 million visitors every year.

10:40PM, sundown at Eiffel
the tower during sundown, at 10:30PM summertime

2. And the winner is…. To celebrate the first centennial of the French Revolution, a public competition was held for an entrance arch of the Exposition Universelle, the 1889 World's Fair. From about 107 entries , the design by Gustave Eiffel won. Eiffel is considered a genius in engineering, who designed among other landmarks, the original locks of the Panama Canal, the internal structure of the Statue of Liberty and the Manila’s San Sebastian Church.

3. Radio saved the day. In the early 1900s, the Eiffel Tower was considered as an abominable modern eyesore in the centuries-old Paris neighborhood that even artists petitioned for its dismantling. The Eiffel tower only had a permit to stand for 20 years and would have been dismantled were it not for its commercial importance as a radio transmission center.

4. Them copycats. There are more than 30 copies of the Eiffel Tower all over the world. The biggest one is the half scale replica in where else but Las Vegas, USA.

5. Tall and proud. When finished in 1889, the Eiffel Tower became the tallest building of the world at 324 meters until its height was eclipsed by the Chrysler Building in 1929. Equivalent to about 81 floors, the Tower remains Paris’ tallest structure.

blinking in the night
Canon PowerShot S40, 4/5s, f/3.2, 8.6 mm

6. Stand alone. Although the Paris urban area contains the most skyscrapers of any city in the European Union, the tall buildings are located away from the Eiffel Tower. A zoning regulation around Eiffel limits most building heights to 7 stories so from afar, the tower still stands in central Paris tall and almost alone.

10:30PM in summer
the tower during sundown, at 10:30PM summertime

7. All is fair in war. To prevent Adolf Hitler to climb up the summit of Eiffel Tower, the elevators cables were cut by the French resistance just before the 1940 Nazi occupation of Paris. As parts were not available because of the war, the elevator could not be repaired and Hitler could only tour the grounds. Hitler was said to have ordered the tower’s destruction before liberation but the Nazi military governor disobeyed the command.

Eiffel over the Seine
the Eiffel tower by the River Seine

8. Infringe my rights. Theoretically, the Eiffel Tower is public domain so publication of its photographs is free. However, in 2003, the SNTE (Société nouvelle d'exploitation de la tour Eiffel) installed a new light display and shrewdly copyrighted its imagery. This effectively and controversially restricts the publication of night-time images of the Eiffel Tower. Potentially, tourists are not allowed to publish pictures and video of the Eiffel Tower taken at night without permission from the authorities. (Hmm…)

Eiffel, isometrically
the tower at nighttime

9. Color me brown. The tower is painted every 7 years and the chore takes about 15 months. The paint comes in 3 ““Eiffel brown” shades, lightest at the apex and darkest at the base. Painting, incredibly, is still done with brushes, all by hand.

under the lace arch
the lace arches of the tower

10. Leg power. The first and second platforms, at 57 and 116 meters height respectively, can be accessed by elevator or by stairs. Even if you climb the first 2 floors by foot, you still have to pay as I did. The east pillar has a flight of stairs with 1665 step but this is closed to the general public. Like everyone else, I had to take the lift to the top at 276 meters. I tried taking pictures there by propping my camera on the iron ledge but the wind was too strong to get any steady shot at all.

me at Eiffel
that’s me for posterity

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Anonymous said...

Farl -
I truly enjoyed this Eiffel Tower expose!
Incredible images ~ I wish I sould jump on a plane right now and explore the tower like you did.
Thanks for posting.
- James

Farl said...

James- and I'll follow your suit! wish I could visit Paris again. thanks!

philb said...

Factoid 11. The air inside the volume of the Eiffel Tower weights more than the tower itself. At least that's what they said when I visited.s

Farl said...

philb- that's a cool factoid!

Anonymous said...

this helped me do my research.10 facts, he-he! Thanks man!