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Eiffel Tower
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Vital Statistics:
Location: Paris, France
Completion Date: 1889
Cost: $1.5 million
Height: 986 feet
Materials: Wrought iron
Engineer(s): Gustave Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower, built in commemoration of the French Revolution, was the tallest building in the world when it was unveiled at the Paris World's Fair in 1889. Although it has been surpassed in height by nearly a dozen skyscrapers since then, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel's chocolate-brown, 984-foot open-lattice wrought-iron tower remains one of the world's premiere tourist attractions.

Eiffel Tower
Click photo
for larger image.

Before the Tower's construction, critics called Eiffel's design an eyesore and predicted that the Tower would cost too much to build. Eiffel knew better. His crew assembled the 18,000 pieces of iron in just 21 months, under budget and in time for the fair's opening day. With the completion of the Tower, Eiffel earned the nickname "magician of iron."

Eiffel was one of the first engineers to recognize the importance of wind forces on tall structures. He designed the surface of his Tower to be so minimal that the wind has virtually nothing to grab onto. All pieces of the Tower form an open lattice of light trusses through which the wind can blow.

The Eiffel Tower was one of the first tall structures in the world to contain passenger elevators, and tourists loved them. Elevator ticket sales in the Eiffel Tower regained almost the entire cost of the structure -- in just one year!


Here's how this skyscraper stacks up against the biggest skyscrapers in the world.
(height, in feet)

Chart showing the relative size of the biggest skyscrapers in the world Eiffel Tower
986'

Fast Facts:
  • The Eiffel Tower is repainted every seven years -- with 50 tons of dark brown paint.
  • Since it was unveiled at the Paris World's Fair in 1889, more than 167 million people have visited the Eiffel Tower.
  • The names of 72 French scientists and other famous individuals are permanently affixed to the sides of the tower in 60-centimeter letters just beneath the first platform, with 18 names per side.
  • Counting from the ground, there are 347 steps to the first level, 674 steps to the second level, and 1,710 steps to the small platform on the top of the tower.
  • On a clear day, it is possible to see 42 miles in every direction from the top of the Eiffel Tower.
  • The Eiffel Tower is twice as tall as the Washington Monument and weighs 70,000 tons less!

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