9 anecdotes revealing all you need to know about the Eiffel Tower

When it was built for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest tower in the world! Alas, it can no longer lay claim to that title, but it remains the most visited monument in the world that isn’t free to enter. That would be because the Eiffel Tower, now come to symbolise Paris, has more than one trick up her sleeve! We’ll show you some of them in 9 anecdotes.
1000 feet... and a nose ahead of Philadelphia!

Before Paris, Philadelphia had plans to build a 1000 foot tall tower (around 300m). But it was France that kept the flame alive! Two of Gustave Eiffel’s engineers researched a similar project, and the French Government, firm believers, launched a competition to erect an “iron tower with a square base”, some “300m high”.

A “skeleton” given form

The foundations had barely been laid, when opponents of the Tower began spouting forth morbid comparisons: “A belfry skeleton”, said poet Paul Verlaine, “a truly tragic streetlight”, said the writer Léon Bloy! When the Eiffel Tower proved such a success at the Universal Expo, drawing in almost two million visitors, the critics piped down...

A record-breaking tower

The highest tower in the world at the time was also built in record time: two years, two months, and five days! What’s it made of? 7300 tonnes of iron, 60 tonnes of paint, 2.5 million rivets, and a lot more besides!

Ancestor of the postcard

The first illustrated postcard in France came from the Eiffel Tower, and of course it bore her image! The “Libonis”, from the name of its author, was printed in the post office on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. The initial print run of 300,000 copies would usher in the fashion for postcards and derivative products.

Saved by the radio!

Not intended to last, the Eiffel Tower was supposed to be destroyed after 20 years! But Gustave Eiffel managed to save it by pointing out how it could serve science. With weather stations and an aerodynamics test lab, the Tower also owes its survival to TSA, radio’s predecessor. As early 1913 you could send a telegram to America from the Tower.

Lift to the top

While the first visitors had to climb the 1710 steps to the top, it wasn’t long before lifts were installed. They were unique prototypes, and two of them are still in service today! Indeed, during the renovation work completed in 2014, it was decided to keep the hydraulic lifts.

A new wardrobe

Without her sturdy coat of paint, the Eiffel Tower couldn’t survive in her puddled iron dress. Since it was built, it has been repainted (by hand!) 19 times, which is something like every 7 years! The colour used since 1968? Eiffel Tower brown!

A little sister in Vegas

From Russia to China, and on to Romania, the Eiffel Tower has been imitated the world over. The first imitation came in 1894 with the Blackpool Tower in the United Kingdom, but the most famous replica (165m tall) is found in Las Vegas.

Lighthouses in the night

Every night, two beams of light with a range of 80km shine over Paris like lighthouses in the night. They are a nod to the original red, white, and blue lamp that was the brightest in the world!

Getting to Paris