Once upon a time... the Eiffel Tower
Publish on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 in Visit Paris
A must-see attraction and the symbol of France throughout the world, the Eiffel Tower dominates Paris, rising more than 300 metres above the city. The pride of the Parisians, this landmark was built at the end of the 19th century.
The Hotel Convention Montparnasse reveals its history...
A great contest for the Universal Exhibition
As civilizations have developed, man has always sought to build as high as possible. In the second half of the 19th century, the use of metal as a building material made it possible to avoid the limitations of stone and brick as strong supporting frameworks could now be made.
The Universal Exhibition of 1889, which marked the centenary of the French Revolution in 1789, gave the French government the idea of launching a major competition, which challenged engineers to…'erect on the Champ de Mars a tower of iron, with a square base of 125 metres each side and a height of 300 metres’.
Four men... and a tower
At that time, a civil engineer and architect named Gustave Eiffel was specialising in the construction of iron bridges. With Maurice Koechlin as head of research, co-designer Émile Nouguier and architect Stephen Sauvestre, Eiffel came up with the plan for a 300 metre high iron tower in response to the government’s challenge.
The design was selected from 107 others. Eiffel then bought the rights to the patent his three partners had taken out, which is why the tower bears only his name today.
About fifty engineers and draughtsmen crafted nearly 5300 drawings and plans as a high degree of accuracy was required. More than 18,000 parts were manufactured in workshops and 250 workers worked on the construction site. There was only one fatality during the two years of the project due to Eiffel’s insistence on safe working conditions.
The inauguration of the Eiffel Tower took place on March 31st, 1889. It was the tallest structure ever built by man until superseded in 1930 by New York’s Chrysler Building. A meteorological observatory was added to the top in 1898 and a radio transmitter in 1901. In 2000 an ultra-high frequency antenna took the tower’s height to 324 metres!