The Eiffel Tower is a magnificent structure that has come to define the Paris skyline. This stunning structure was named for its designer, Gustave Eiffel. With a height of 1,063 feet, it is the tallest building in Paris. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world. Since its construction in 1889, the it has seen more than 200 million visitors.
Gustave Eiffel constructed the Eiffel Tower as the entrance arch for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889. The construction of the tower began in 1887, taking 2 years, 2 months, and 5 days to complete. The structural design of the tower was created by Maurice Koechlin. It took 2 1/2 million rivets and over 18,000 pieces of puddled iron to construct. Only one of the 300 workers who built the monument died during construction. On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated. On that day, Gustave Eiffel climbed the 1,710 steps to the very height of the tower and planted the French flag. The tower officially opened on May 6 of the same year. The Eiffel Tower was the tallest structure in the world until 1930, when the Chrysler Building was constructed.
The Eiffel Tower was originally slated to be destroyed 20 years after its construction. To help preserve his construction, Eiffel insisted the tower could be used as an observatory and a laboratory. The monument was, in fact, put to use for these purposes. Lightning conductors, barometers and wind gauges were installed. Monsieur Eiffel himself built an office on the third floor where he would study astronomy, meteorology and physiology. In 1925, the tower was home to some of the first experiments in television broadcasting. The tower now boasts 120 antennas including a 324-meter television antennae.
The metal structure of the Eiffel Tower weights 7,300 tons. The total weight of the structure is 10,100 tons. The tower is 324 meters tall, including the flagpole. It takes 1,665 steps to reach the top. The North and West foundations of the tower reach 15 meters underground. The Eiffel Tower generally sees between 5 and 6 million visitors each year.
The Eiffel tower has changed color six times since is construction. It is repainted every 7 years. The nineteenth coat of paint will be added near the end of 2008. Each repainting requires 60 tons of paint and takes 15 to 18 months to complete. The Eiffel tower is in fact painted in three different shades, which grow lighter towards the top and are designed to match the Parisian sky. The tower was originally constructed with four restaurants on the first floor. Each served a unique variety of food: Alsatian, Russian, English-American and French. In 1937, this floor underwent its first overhaul, resulting in two restaurants in place of the original four. In the 1980s, these restaurants were remodeled again to create the "La Belle France" and "Le Parisien." In 1996, these two were merged to create "Altitude 95," which is currently undergoing another renovation and will reopen in 2009.
The first floor of the Eiffel Tower is home to a snack bar, the "Altitude 95" restaurant, souvenir shops and a post office. On this floor, you can explore the Totem, a room with 8 television screens taking you through a tour of the history and construction of the tower. This floor also has a variety of other exhibits. The second floor offers a 360-degree view of Paris. This floor also features a snack bar, souvenir shops, and internet stations as well as the "Le Jules Verne" Restaurant. The top floor offers representations of Gustave Eiffel's office and the engineer's office. The Eiffel Tower is open to visitors 365 days a year.