Eiffel Tower history offers an additional perspective on this iconic structure, and on the city of Paris, too. As the symbol of the city, this world-famous structure has quite a tale to tell, especially when you consider that it wasn’t supposed to survive for very long. Built for Paris’s Universal Exhibition in 1889, the Eiffel Tower originally had a designated life span of 20 years. What saved it was the fact that it served as a fine tower to attach a radio antenna to.
The World’s Fair of 1889, also called the Universal Exhibition, largely served to mark the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. It also ushered in the beginning of Eiffel Tower history. The lofty, iron structure, designed by a French engineer by the name of Gustave Eiffel, was constructed upon the premise that it would serve as the entrance arch for the 1889 celebration. Work on the tower commenced in 1887, and the finished product was inaugurated on March 31, 1889. So just how old is the Eiffel Tower? The official opening date was May 6, 1889.
Several hundred people helped to put the Eiffel Tower together, and thanks to strict safety measures, only one man perished in the process. As proud as these workers and the tower’s designer may have been upon completion of the structure, the general public wasn’t very accepting on the whole. Many deemed it to be ugly, and plenty went to task writing complaint letters for newspapers to print. It’s odd to think that the Eiffel Tower was so poorly received by so many in its early days, as today, it is one of the top attractions in Paris.
There are plenty of interesting facts about the Eiffel Tower. For example, the famous U.S. inventor Thomas Edison visited the structure in 1889 and wrote a message in the guestbook that reflected his admiration of the project. Many skeptics of the time didn’t actually think that Gustave Eiffel could succeed at building his now famous tower, partially because of its intended height. Edison’s message actually refers to the chief architect as "the brave builder."
Another interesting note in Eiffel Tower history relates to a failed parachuting jump. In 1912, a tailor who doubled as an inventor jumped from the tower’s first deck with the intent of testing a parachute suit of his own creation. Born in Austria, the tailor/inventor, Franz Reighelt, perished during his Eiffel Tower jump. The crowd that had gathered was treated to a horrific show for sure, and the event got a lot of attention in the press. Some press photographers actually snapped photos of the jump, and a film that documents the leap became newsreel material.
For those who are wondering how tall is the Eiffel Tower, it reaches a height of 1,063 feet if you count the antenna spire. The actual roof tops out at just under 990 feet, and the top floor is set at 896 feet. Until 1930, it was actually the tallest manmade structure on the planet. It lost that distinction when the Chrysler Building was finished in 1930, though it is now taller than said building due to the addition of a TV antenna in 1957. Other structures have since surpassed the Eiffel Tower in the height department, though it is impressive to think that it held onto its "tallest structure in the world" designation for more than 40 years.
Since the Eiffel Tower was opened way back in 1889, it has gotten more than 200,000,000 visitors. That makes it the world’s most visited monument in the world, at least as far as paid monuments are concerned. Various floors can be visited on a tour of the Eiffel Tower, and it should be mentioned that since 2004, it is possible to ice skate on one of the floors in the winter. The Eiffel Tower ice rink sits at an elevation of 188 feet, so skaters can enjoy some splendid views of Paris while they glide across the frozen surface.