As the world celebrates the then tallest building that was built 126 years ago by Gustave Eiffel, the engineer and architect who failed to build a canal in Panama but moved to build the world tallest structure that remained a monument until 1930 in this category.
The Eiffel Tower, an icon of Paris, is frequented by 7 million visitors per year and Google released a colourful Doodle celebrating the occasion today. However, publishing an illuminated photograph of the tower is not permitted and illegal as the copyrights are reserved by the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE).
Here are 25 interesting facts on Eiffel Tower to mark the 126th anniversary:
- Completed on March 31, 1889, the tower was the world’s tallest man-made structure at 324 metres until the rival Chrysler Building in New York came up in 1930.
- The structure has 1,665 steps to reach the top but most people take the lift, which travels 103,000 km a year, almost two-and-a-half times the circumference of the Earth. It costs €15 to reach the top by lift.
- During cold weather the tower shrinks by about 6 inches.
- Gustave Eiffel, the engineer and architect behind the tower, also designed interior elements of the Statue of Liberty. He failed to build Panama canal though before taking up these projects. He died while listening to Beethoven’s 5th symphony.
- So far, 250 million people have visited the tower, the most visited paid-for monument, with 7 million visitors thronging.
- Eiffel tower’s construction took two years, two months and five days – 180 years fewer than Paris’s other great attraction, Notre Dame. They used 18,000 metallic parts, joined together by 2.5 million rivets to build it.
- During the German occupation, the tower’s lift cables were cut, and the tower closed to the public. Nazi soldiers tried to fix a big swastika on top but it blew away forcing them to opt for a smaller one.
- In 1944, as the Allies approached Paris, Hitler ordered Dietrich von Choltitz, the military governor of Paris, to demolish the tower, but the general refused.
9.Every 7 years, the tower is repainted and it consumes 60 tonnes of paint.
10. The tower was built as the main exhibit at the 1889 Exposition Universelle (World’s Fair), held to commemorate the centennial of the French Revolution.
11. One attendee at the 1889 World’s Fair was Sir John Bickerstaffe, Mayor of Blackpool. So impressed was he at the new attraction, he has a similar tower built on the English seafront, while in Tokyo too a Tokyo Tower was built replicating the original. Other replicas around the world include one in Las Vegas and one at the Window of the World theme park in Shenzhen, China.
12. The tower appears in the 1985 Bond film ‘A View to a Kill’. There is a scene in the Jules Verne restaurant, and a fight in the stairway. Prior to it, Semolina Pilchard climbs the Eiffel Tower in the Beatles song ‘I Am the Walrus’.
- The tower played a part in the Allied victory at the First Battle of the Marne, in 1914. One of its transmitters jammed German radio communications, hindering their advance.
It was originally intended to stand for 20 years before being dismantled, but its use as a wireless telegraph transmitter allowed its stay.
French car manufacturer Citroen used the tower as a giant billboard between 1925 and 1934, with his company name was emblazoned on the tower using a quarter of a million light bulbs – and was recorded as the world’s biggest advertisement by the Guinness Book of Records.
- In 2008 a woman with an objects fetish married the Eiffel Tower, changing her name to Erika La Tour Eiffel in honour of her ‘partner’.
- Several pilots have flown an aircraft under the arches of the tower but in 1926 Leon Collet was killed after a failed bid.
The tower sways around six to seven centimetres (2-3 inches) in the wind.
Gustave Eiffel kept a third floor apartment for guests but now it is open to the public.
- In 1960 President Charles de Gaulle toyed with the idea of temporarily dismantling the tower and sending it to Montreal for Expo 67 but the plan was rejected.
- The names of 72 engineers, scientists and mathematicians are engraved on the side of the tower for their contribution to its construction.
- In latest video game “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3”, the tower is toppled by an airstrike.
- The tower has 20,000 lightbulbs used to make it sparkle every night.
- In 1905 a local newspaper organised a stair climbing championship at the tower which was won by A M.Forestier who took three minutes and 12 seconds to reach the second level.
- Pierre Labric cycled down the stairs of the tower in 1923 to win a bet but was arrested by local police.