Little Bits of History

How TALL Are You?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 31, 2013
Eiffel Tower under construction

Eiffel Tower under construction

March 31, 1889: The world’s then tallest structure is inaugurated. Today, it remains the world’s most visited paid monument. Named for the designer, it remains a worldwide icon, easily recognized even in silhouette. It took two years, two months, and five days to build and used 18,038 pieces and 2,500,000 rivets. The structure weighs 7,300 tons. When Barcelona turned down the architect’s plans, he went to the city hosting the 1889 Exposition Universelle. Which explains why Eiffel’s tower is in Paris.

The tower, measuring 1,063 feet, which includes the flagpole, remains the tallest structure in Paris. It is the fifth tallest structure in France. The tallest skyscraper is in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The Burj Khalifa i was built from 2004 to 2010 and was opened in January of this year. It surpassed the Taipai 101 as the tallest man-made structure on the planet. It is 2,717 feet from ground level to the roof. The Eiffel Tower is a lattice tower, and the tallest of these is the Kiev TV Tower in the Ukraine at 1,263 feet.

The Eiffel Tower’s unique shape led to criticism. Some claimed that Gustave was trying to be artistic while other deplored the design. Eiffel had worked designing and constructing bridges and knew how important it was for a structure to be able to withstand the forces of the wind. The shape of the tower was mathematically calculated to withstand those forces.

The original permit for the tower was for twenty years and then it was to be dismantled and removed. Instead, it has become a recognizable landmark visited by 249,976,000 people (as of December 31, 2009). To maintain the tower, 50 to 60 tons of paint are applied every seven years. The color changes with applications and visitors can vote for the next color. Three different shades of paint are used so the color seems to remain uniform when looked at from ground level. The current color is a brownish-gray.

“The Eiffel Tower is the Empire State Building after taxes.” – unknown

“Architecture is one part science, one part craft and two parts art.” – David Rutten

“The higher the buildings, the lower the morals.” – Noel Coward

“Architecture is the art of how to waste space.” – Philip Johnson

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Gustave Eiffel was born in Dijon, Côte-d’Or, France in 1832. His parents were busy running the family business so he spent much of young life with his grandmother. Gustave did not do well in school and felt it was both boring and a waste of time. With the help of some concerned teachers, he finally grew to love both history and literature and ended his schooling on a better note. He was more influenced by his uncle, a scientist, and some other scientifically minded friends. He went on to the Collège Sainte-Barbe in Paris in order to help him get into engineering school. He did not perform well enough to get to attend the more prestigious of these and only qualified for the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures – more of a vocational school.

Also on this day: Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
Spring Forward – Fall Back – In 1918, DST was first used in the US.
Virgin Territory – In 1917, the US takes possession of the Virgin Islands.

One Response

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  1. Bobby Dias said, on March 31, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    The Eiffel Tower’s design was far from original. Many oil producing strutcures and before that water well structures were of this particular design but much smaller-mostly with a wood sheeting to cover the outside to protect it from rain water that would cause rust-the sheeting made the design relatively unknown by blocking the view of the structure. The Barcelona officials refused to have the structure in their city because of what they considered to be a false claim of originality by Gustave Eiffel. The french saw $$$$.

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