The history of the Eiffel Tower

31 March 2014

On this day in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was opened on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Named after the engineer, Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower, it has become both a global cultural iconic structure of France and one of the most recognisable structures in the world.

At 324 metres tall, the Eiffel Tower is approximately the same height as a building with 81 storeys. Prior to its construction, Washington Monument was the tallest man-made structure and the title was returned to the US in 1930 when the Chrysler Building was built in New York City. Due to the addition of the antenna on top of the Eiffel Tower in 1957, the title returned to Paris as the Tower was then taller than the Chrysler Building by just 5.2 metres.

However, the history of the Eiffel Tower does not stop here. In 1991, Thierry Devaux performed a number of acrobatic figures (with mountain guide Hervé Calvayrac) from the second floor of the Tower. This was prohibited and when firemen attended, he stopped his acrobatic manoeuvres swiftly! The Eiffel Tower also played host to the Millennium Celebrations on New Year’s Eve 1999. Flashing lights and four high-power searchlights were installed and fireworks were set off all over the Tower. Since this time, the light show has become a nightly event. The searchlights on top of the tower make it a beacon in Paris’s night sky, and the 20,000 flash bulbs give the tower a sparkly appearance every hour on the hour.

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