Location: Paris, France
Architect: Maurice Koechlin, Émile Nouguier, Gustave Eiffel
Date Built: 1887-1889
Base Width: 124.9m
What Society Built it: French Third Republic
Why it was Built: To serve as the centerpiece of the Exposition Universelle of 1889
What it Is
An wrought-iron truss tower standing over the heart of Paris, the Eiffel Tower is perhaps the most iconic monument in the world. Currently serving as a tourist destination and a television and radio broadcast center, it attracts more visitors than any paid attraction in the world. Standing at 324m tall, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world upon its completion, surpassing the Washington Monument and being the first to pass the 200m and 300m marks. It held the title of tallest structure in the world for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was unveiled, and today remains the tallest building in Paris. In France, however, it has been surpassed by the Millau Viaduct. As a major tourist destination, accommodations have been built on all three levels accessible by lift or staircase to tourists: restaurants on the first two, and an observation deck on the top, the highest available to the public in the European Union.
While credit for the tower is usually given to its namesake, Gustave Eiffel, it was designed by two senior engineers at his firm, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier. It was designed for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, a world's fair to commemorate the 100th-year anniversary of the French Revolution. Construction of the tower began in 1887, after Eiffel won a competition to build a tower in the Champ de Mars. The tower itself was highly criticized by the artistic community, leading to the creation of a "Committee of Three Hundred", which was led by prominent architects and artists, eventually submitting a petition called "Artists against the Eiffel Tower". Upon completion, many would change their minds as it became a symbol of Paris and France, however some remained unconvinced, such as Guy de Maupassant, who frequently ate at the tower's restaurants because it was the only place that it was not visible. Upon completion in 1889, it was inaugurated by Eiffel leading a group of government officials and reporters to the top of the tower, alongside a 25-gun salute fired from the first level.
It is known locally as "La dame de fer", translated to "The Iron Lady"
In the waning days of the German occupation of the city, the tower, alongside the rest of the city, were ordered demolished by Hitler. However, last military governor of Paris, Dietrich von Choltitz, disobeyed the order and surrendered the city unscathed to the Free French. For this, he has been known as the "Saviour of Paris".
Despite being surpassed in height by the Chrysler Building in 1930, the Eiffel Tower is now 5.2m taller due to the addition of a broadcasting antenna to the top.
Inscribed in gold on the tower are the names of 72 French scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who contributed to completing the tower.
The tower was only meant to stand for 20 years, after which it would be dismantled, but so useful it was to radio broadcasting that it was allowed to stand.