Mar 31, 2016
On this date in 1889, the Eiffel Tower opened.
Here are some things you may not have known about the Paris landmark.
It was constructed as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair and was designed and built by the company owned by Gustave Eiffel.
The tower cost an estimated 6.5 million francs, of which the World’s Fair organizers paid only 1.5 million. In exchange, they allowed Eiffel to have the commercial rights to the tower during the exposition and for the next 20 years. After those 20 years expired, Eiffel was supposed to dismantle and remove the tower.
The tower was a source of controversy at first. Some believed the 300-meter tall tower was not feasible, and others didn’t like it for aesthetic reasons. Once the tower was completed, one of the latter group, writer Guy de Maupassant, is said to have eaten lunch regularly at the tower’s restaurant because it was one of the few places from which he could view Paris’ skyline without seeing the tower.
Construction began in January 1887 with the foundations. After six months the ironwork began. In all, the tower consists of 18,038 pieces, joined together by 2.5 million rivets.
Structural work was finished by the end of March 1889, but the elevators and other facilities remained a work in progress. In fact, the tower didn’t open to the public until nine days after the start of the World’s Fair in May, and even then the elevators had yet to be completed. However, 30,000 visitors climbed the stairs to the top before the elevators started operation on May 26. More than 1.8 million visitors toured the tower during the exposition.
In 1909, the original permit for the tower expired, but the city allowed it to remain as it was useful as a radio and later television transmitter. It also became a national symbol of France. During World War II, the French cut the elevator cables while the Germans occupied Paris, requiring the Germans to climb the stairs to unfurl their swastika flag. In 1944, as the Allies were on the verge of retaking Paris, Hitler ordered the tower destroyed. The Nazi military governor disobeyed the order.
The economic design of the tower means that if the iron were melted down, it would cover a square the size of the base of the tower to a depth of just two and a half inches. Also, if you were to build a box to surround the tower, the weight of the air inside would almost equal the weight of the metal.
The tower welcomed its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.
The Eiffel Tower was the tallest building in the world from 1889 until 1930.
Our question, what building surpassed the tower as the world’s tallest building?
Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility, Cesar Chavez Day in the United States and Freedom Day in Malta.
It’s National Bunsen Burner Day, National Clams on the Half Shell Day and National Crayola Crayon Day.
It’s the birthday of composers Johan Sebastian Bach and Franz Joseph Haydn, boxer Jack Johnson, actor Christopher Walken and my brother, Joe Michelson.
Because our topic happened before 1960, we will spin the wheel to pick a year at random.
This week in 1986, the top song in the U.S. was “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco.
The No. 1 movie was “Police Academy 3: Back in Training,” while “The Bourne Supremacy” by Robert Ludlum topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.
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