Eiffel Tower facts for kids
La Tour Eiffel
The Eiffel Tower as seen from
the Champ de Mars
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|Tallest in the world from 1889 to 1930|
Radio broadcasting tower
|Opening||31 March 1889|
|Owner||City of Paris, France|
|Management||Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE)|
|Antenna spire||324.00 m (1,063 ft)|
|Roof||300.65 m (986 ft)|
|Top floor||273.00 m (896 ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Structural engineer||Maurice Koechlin,
|Main contractor||Compagnie des Établissements Eiffel|
Constructed from 1887 to 1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World's Fair, it was initially criticised by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but it has become a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognisable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.91 million people ascended it in 2015.
The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building, and the tallest structure in Paris. Its base is square, measuring 125 metres (410 ft) on each side. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930. It was the first structure to reach a height of 300 metres. Due to the addition of a broadcasting aerial at the top of the tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 metres (17 ft). Excluding transmitters, the Eiffel Tower is the second tallest free-standing structure in France after the Millau Viaduct.
The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second levels. The top level's upper platform is 276 m (906 ft) above the ground – the highest observation deck accessible to the public in the European Union. Tickets can be purchased to ascend by stairs or lift to the first and second levels. The climb from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the climb from the first level to the second. Although there is a staircase to the top level, it is usually accessible only by lift.
There are 20,000 sparkling lights and 80 km (50 miles) of cables covering the structure. The paper used to print the visitors' tickets in one year weighs 2 tonnes (4,400 pounds). The top of the tower leans away from the sun as the metal facing the sun heats up and expands it can move as much as 18 cm (7 inches) and grow 15 cm (6 inches) taller. The tower was also built to sway slightly in the wind.
The Eiffel Tower was built by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Even though Gustave Eiffel is credited for the Eiffel Tower it was actually two lesser known people who came up with the original drawing of it. These people were Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier. These two men were the chief engineers of Eiffel’s engineering firm. The main architect was Stephen Sauvestre.
Koechlin, Nouguier, Sauvestre, and Eiffel submitted the plans to compete for the spot on the champ de mars plot of land, to serve as the expositions entrance. It would also determine the 1889 world's fair centerpiece in Paris. There were 107 bids submitted to construct the Eiffel Tower. Fifty people worked on the design, and more than 100 built the parts. One hundred and thirty two workers assembled the parts on site.
The first digging for the foundations began on January 28, 1887 and all construction was concluded on March 31, 1889. When the tower was built, it was only meant to be kept for 20 years. People did not like the Eiffel Tower and wanted it taken down because they thought is was an ugly structure polluting the scenery of the Paris sky. After the 20 years, the tower became the property of Paris again.
By this time, the city had learned that the tower could be used to help with communications. There was also a metrology lab that had been installed for studies on everything from gravity to electricity. The military used the tower as a wireless telegraph transmitter for communication during battle. The tower was used in the capture of the spy "Mata Hari" during World War I after a message was intercepted. Today, it is used to send radio and television signals to the capital city of Paris and beyond. After people learned about the many benefits the tower provided, no one wanted it to be taken apart.
There were 50 architects, engineers, and draftsmen that created 5,300 drawings of the Eiffel Tower before the construction started. Once they had a plan, there were 18,000 pieces built and prepared in Eiffel's factory outside of town. These pieces were created to the accuracy of 1/10 of a millimeter. These pieces were put together to form new pieces that were 5 meters long to be transported to the building site.
There were 132 workers there to assemble the pieces on site. All the pieces were put into place and hooked together by thermally assembled rivets. There were 4 men needed to assemble a single rivet: one person to heat the rivet up, another to hold it in place, a third to shape the head, and a fourth person to beat the rivet with a sledge hammer.
Only 1⁄3 of the 2.5 million rivets were assembled on site. The work on the foundations took 5 months. The workers only used spades, and the rubble was taken away by horses and steam locomotives.
There was no problem in building the pillars on the Champ de Mars side of the tower. But on the Seine River side of the tower, foundations used compressed air and corrugated steel caissons five meters under water. The deepest foundations are 15 meters under ground. The feet of the tower are set in each of these foundation ditches. These foundations support the four pillars or truss frames.
The difficulty building the first floor was in bringing building materials and people up to it with a point of departure as in the elevators. The elevators had to be positioned at a slanting angle to meet the horizontal beams on the first floor. The elevator had to use hydraulic jacks to move and erect the elevator up the slanted legs. Currently the hydraulic jacks are not in use due to more advanced technology. The second floor was assembled with cranes that took the same route as the elevators. There was no troubles from this point onward in the construction.
The iron of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tons, and the addition of lifts, shops and antennae have brought the total weight to approximately 10,100 tons. As a demonstration of the economy of design, if the 7,300 tons of metal in the structure were melted down, it would fill the square base, 125 metres (410 ft) on each side, to a depth of only 6.25 cm (2.46 in) assuming the density of the metal to be 7.8 tons per cubic metre. Additionally, a cubic box surrounding the tower (324 m x 125 m x 125 m) would contain 6,200 tons of air, weighing almost as much as the iron itself. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm (7 in) due to thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun.
When it was built, many were shocked by the tower's daring form. Eiffel was accused of trying to create something artistic with no regard to the principles of engineering. However, Eiffel and his team – experienced bridge builders – understood the importance of wind forces, and knew that if they were going to build the tallest structure in the world, they had to be sure it could withstand them.
He used graphical methods to determine the strength of the tower and empirical evidence to account for the effects of wind, rather than a mathematical formula. Close examination of the tower reveals a basically exponential shape. All parts of the tower were over-designed to ensure maximum resistance to wind forces. The top half was even assumed to have no gaps in the latticework. In the years since it was completed, engineers have put forward various mathematical hypotheses in an attempt to explain the success of the design. The most recent, devised in 2004 after letters sent by Eiffel to the French Society of Civil Engineers in 1885 were translated into English, is described as a non-linear integral equation based on counteracting the wind pressure on any point of the tower with the tension between the construction elements at that point.
The Eiffel Tower sways by up to 9 centimetres (3.5 in) in the wind.
When originally built, the first level contained three restaurants—one French, one Russian and one Flemish—and an "Anglo-American Bar". After the exposition closed, the Flemish restaurant was converted to a 250-seat theatre. A promenade 2.6-metre (8 ft 6 in) wide ran around the outside of the first level. At the top, there were laboratories for various experiments, and a small apartment reserved for Gustave Eiffel to entertain guests, which is now open to the public, complete with period decorations and lifelike mannequins of Eiffel and some of his notable guests.
In May 2016, an apartment was created on the first level to accommodate four competition winners during the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament in Paris in June. The apartment has a kitchen, two bedrooms, a lounge, and views of Paris landmarks including the Seine, the Sacre Coeur, and the Arc de Triomphe.
The arrangement of the lifts has been changed several times during the tower's history. Given the elasticity of the cables and the time taken to align the cars with the landings, each lift, in normal service, takes an average of 8 minutes and 50 seconds to do the round trip, spending an average of 1 minute and 15 seconds at each level. The average journey time between levels is 1 minute. The original hydraulic mechanism is on public display in a small museum at the base of the east and west legs. Because the mechanism requires frequent lubrication and maintenance, public access is often restricted. The rope mechanism of the north tower can be seen as visitors exit the lift.
Gustave Eiffel engraved on the tower the names of 72 French scientists, engineers and mathematicians in recognition of their contributions to the building of the tower. Eiffel chose this "invocation of science" because of his concern over the artists' protest. At the beginning of the 20th century, the engravings were painted over, but they were restored in 1986–87 by the Société Nouvelle d'exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, a company operating the tower.
The tower is painted in three shades: lighter at the top, getting progressively darker towards the bottom to perfectly complement the Parisian sky. It was originally reddish brown; this changed in 1968 to a bronze colour known as "Eiffel Tower Brown".
The only non-structural elements are the four decorative grill-work arches, added in Sauvestre's sketches, which served to make the tower look more substantial and to make a more impressive entrance to the exposition.
One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes the tower. In reality, since zoning restrictions limit the height of most buildings in Paris to seven storeys, only a small number of tall buildings have a clear view of the tower.
Maintenance of the tower includes applying 60 tons of paint every seven years to prevent it from rusting. The tower has been completely repainted at least 19 times since it was built. Lead paint was still being used as recently as 2001 when the practice was stopped out of concern for the environment.
The nearest Paris Métro station is Bir-Hakeim and the nearest RER station is Champ de Mars-Tour Eiffel. The tower itself is located at the intersection of the quai Branly and the Pont d'Iéna.
More than 250 million people have visited the tower since it was completed in 1889. In 2015, there were 6.91 million visitors. The tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world. An average of 25,000 people ascend the tower every day which can result in long queues. Tickets can be purchased online to avoid the long queues.
The tower has two restaurants: Le 58 Tour Eiffel on the first level, and Le Jules Verne, a gourmet restaurant with its own lift on the second level. This restaurant has one star in the Michelin Red Guide. It is run by the multi-Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse and owes its name to the famous science-fiction writer Jules Verne. Additionally, there is a champagne bar at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
As one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, the Eiffel Tower has been the inspiration for the creation of many replicas and similar towers. An early example is Blackpool Tower in England. The mayor of Blackpool, Sir John Bickerstaffe, was so impressed on seeing the Eiffel Tower at the 1889 exposition that he commissioned a similar tower to be built in his town. It opened in 1894 and is 158.1 metres (518 ft) tall. Tokyo Tower in Japan, built as a communications tower in 1958, was also inspired by the Eiffel Tower.
There are various scale models of the tower in the United States, including a half-scale version at the Paris Las Vegas, Nevada, one in Paris, Texas built in 1993, and two 1:3 scale models at Kings Island, Ohio, and Kings Dominion, Virginia, amusement parks opened in 1972 and 1975 respectively. Two 1:3 scale models can be found in China, one in Durango, Mexico that was donated by the local French community, and several across Europe.
In 2011, the TV show Pricing the Priceless on the National Geographic Channel speculated that a full-size replica of the tower would cost approximately US$480 million to build.
The tower has been used for making radio transmissions since the beginning of the 20th century. Until the 1950s, sets of aerial wires ran from the cupola to anchors on the Avenue de Suffren and Champ de Mars. These were connected to longwave transmitters in small bunkers. In 1909, a permanent underground radio centre was built near the south pillar, which still exists today. On 20 November 1913, the Paris Observatory, using the Eiffel Tower as an aerial, exchanged wireless signals with the United States Naval Observatory, which used an aerial in Arlington, Virginia. The object of the transmissions was to measure the difference in longitude between Paris and Washington, D.C. Today, radio and digital television signals are transmitted from the Eiffel Tower.
|87.8 MHz||10||France Inter|
|89.0 MHz||10||RFI Paris|
|89.9 MHz||6||TSF Jazz|
|90.9 MHz||4||Chante France|
A television antenna was first installed on the tower in 1957, increasing its height by 18.7 m (61.4 ft). Work carried out in 2000 added a further 5.3 m (17.4 ft), giving the current height of 324 m (1,063 ft). Analogue television signals from the Eiffel Tower ceased on 8 March 2011.
|479.25 MHz||—||22||500||France 2|
|527.25 MHz||—||28||500||France 3|
|543.25 MHz||—||30||100||France 5|
The tower and its image have long been in the public domain. In June 1990 a French court ruled that a special lighting display on the tower in 1989 to mark the tower's 100th anniversary was an "original visual creation" protected by copyright. The Court of Cassation, France's judicial court of last resort, upheld the ruling in March 1992. The Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE) now considers any illumination of the tower to be a separate work of art that falls under copyright. As a result, the SNTE alleges that it is illegal to publish contemporary photographs of the lit tower at night without permission in France and some other countries for commercial use.
The imposition of copyright has been controversial. The Director of Documentation for what was then called the Société Nouvelle d'exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SNTE), Stéphane Dieu, commented in 2005: "It is really just a way to manage commercial use of the image, so that it isn't used in ways [of which] we don't approve". SNTE made over €1 million from copyright fees in 2002. However, it could also be used to restrict the publication of tourist photographs of the tower at night, as well as hindering non-profit and semi-commercial publication of images of the illuminated tower.
French doctrine and jurisprudence allows pictures incorporating a copyrighted work as long as their presence is incidental or accessory to the subject being represented, a reasoning akin to the de minimis rule. Therefore, SETE may be unable to claim copyright on photographs of Paris which happen to include the lit tower.
The Eiffel Tower was the world's tallest structure when completed in 1889, a distinction it retained until 1929 when the Chrysler Building in New York City was topped out. The tower has lost its standing both as the world's tallest structure and the world's tallest lattice tower but retains its status as the tallest freestanding (non-guyed) structure in France.
Images for kids
First drawing of the Eiffel Tower by Maurice Koechlin including size comparison with other Parisian landmarks such as Notre Dame de Paris, the Statue of Liberty and the Vendôme Column
Caricature of Gustave Eiffel comparing the Eiffel tower to the Pyramids
A calligram by Guillaume Apollinaire
Foundations of the Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.