Gustave Eiffel was the architect who designed the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. Before working on the Eiffel Tower, Gustave Eiffel built the Statue of Liberty that stands in New York City, given to the United States by France in 1886. The Eiffel Tower was unveiled to the world in conjunction with the hosting of the Exposition Universelle, or World's Fair, which was held in Paris in 1889. The Eiffel Tower was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. The Eiffel Tower was an engineering feat in both design and construction, and it stood as the tallest building in the world between 1889 and 1930, when the Chrysler Building in New York City superseded it. Although the history of the Eiffel Tower is interesting, it's particularly fascinating to delve into the engineering of the building, which includes the lifts installed to bring tourists to the different floors for sightseeing.
Many architects competed in a contest to design the building, but officials chose Gustave Eiffel's design unanimously. Although some controversy surrounded the construction of the structure initially, it has been an iconic representation of France since it was built. Construction of the Eiffel Tower took more than two years, and more than 100 workers scaled the building to put more than 18,000 pieces of iron together with 2.5 million precisely placed rivets. Although the construction work was perilous and lengthy, no lives were lost during the building phase.
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The Eiffel Tower spans an impressive 108 stories, and it has 1,710 steps. At slightly more than 1,000 feet high when originally built, one of the biggest challenges in designing and erecting the Eiffel Tower was building it to withstand high winds. Gustave Eiffel used his expertise in building bridges as he erected the Eiffel Tower. The full weight of the Eiffel Tower is 10,000 pounds. With 5 billion lights, the Eiffel Tower stands as a shining beacon in the night. The structure was given five lifts, one from the second landing to the top and one in each of the legs. Tourists can also climb the stairs up to the first of the three platforms, which is 190 feet up. The other two platforms are 376 feet and nearly 900 feet up respectively. An elevator in the Eiffel Tower travels a full distance of just more than 64,000 miles each year. When the Eiffel Tower was initially built, it had hydraulic elevators, but this technology eventually gave way to electric elevators, as hydraulic elevators did not function well during the winter months due to the cold temperatures. But it's still possible to see the original elevators when touring the Eiffel Tower.
About 20 years after the Eiffel Tower was opened to the public, it was nearly torn down because officials considered it to be a frivolous use of land space. Officials also wanted to recycle the scrap metal used to build the tower. This plan was interrupted by World War I, which ended up being the catalyst to saving the Eiffel Tower from demolition. An antenna was installed on the top of the building, and the tower was used as a military radio center. This led to a lease renewal for 70 more years.
The Eiffel Tower continued to draw tourists for many decades after World War I ended. However, in 1980, some serious structural issues were occurring. The lifts were wearing out, and many areas of the building were becoming dangerous. Officials planned and orchestrated significant renovations, which occurred between 1980 and 1983. The company in charge of the renovation work removed excess weight in the antennas. Other structural pieces, such as original staircases, were removed and replaced. New lifts were also installed, and a fresh coat of paint was applied to the entire exterior surface.
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The Eiffel Tower has drawn about 250 million people since it opened in 1889. More than 7 million visitors explore the building every year, visiting restaurants and gift shops. Tourists can also tour the tower in groups, led by docents. Receiving visitors every day of the year, the Eiffel Tower even stays open until midnight during the summer months.