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Effil Tower

Seven Wonders Of The World



In 1889, M. Eiffel began to fit the peak of the tower as an observation 
 station to measure the speed of wind. He also encouraged several 
 scientific experiments including Foucault's giant pendulum, a mercury 
 barometer and the first experiment of radio transmission. In 1898, 
 Eugene Ducretet at the Pantheon, received signals from the tower.
 After M. Eiffel had experimented in the field of meterology, he begun 
 to look at the effects of wind and air resistance, the science 
 that would later be termed aerodynamics, which has become a large part 
 of both military and commerical aviation as well as rocket 
 technology. Gustave Eiffel imagined an automatic device sliding along 
 a cable that was stretched between the ground and the second floor of 
 the Eiffel Tower. 
 The limited capacity of the available measuring instruments, led M. 
 Eiffel to a more sophisticated knowledge in aviation and, eventually, to 
 wind tunnel experiments. He built a wind tunnel on the Champ de 
 Mars, which was in use from 1909-1911. The tunnel was sufficient for 

 lab experiments bit inadequate for the study of airplanes. However, 
 with the help of several other engineers, Leon Rith, Lapresle, and 
 Eiffel made over 5,000 tests in this lab.  Almost all the pioneers of 
 aviation tested in this wind tunnel. 
 In 1911, a better wind tunnel which is still in use was built and between 
 1912-1914, Eiffel began experiments with military equipment for WWI 
 fighter planes. In 1917, the Eiffel Laboratory designed a very advanced 
 monoplane chaser of which two prototypes were built in Breguet. One 
 crashed due to pilot error. 
 M. Eiffel was a contemporary of Samuel Langeley, the president of the 
 Smithstonian Institute, for whom the NASA field center Langely 
 Research Center was named. Much of Eiffel's work had gone on to help 
 expand the science of aerodynamics.  NASA used many propeller and 
 wind tunnel experiments in their trainer planes for astronauts. 

The Eiffel {y'-ful} Tower, an immense stucture of exposed latticework supports made of iron, was erected for the Paris Exposition of 1889. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII of England) officiated at the ceremonial opening. Of the 700 proposals submitted in a design competition, one was unanimously chosen, a radical creation from the French structural engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (b. Dec. 15, 1832, d. Dec. 28, 1923), who was assisted in the design by engineers Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, and architect Stephen Sauvestre.

However, the controversial tower elicited some strong reactions, and a petition of 300 names — including those of Maupassant, Emile Zola, Charles Garnier (architect of the Opéra Garnier), and Dumas the Younger — was presented to the city government, protesting its construction. The petition read, "We, the writers, painters, sculptors, architects and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigour and all our indignation, in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower."

Nature lovers thought that it would interfere with the flight of birds over Paris. But the Eiffel Tower was admired by Rousseau, Utrillo, Chagall, and Delaunay. It was almost torn down in 1909 at the expiration of its 20-year lease, but was saved because of its antenna — used for telegraphy at that time. Beginning in 1910 it became part of the International Time Service. French radio (since 1918), and French television (since 1957) have also made use of its stature. In the 1960s, it was the subject of a wonderful study by semiologist Roland Barthes.

Built to celebrate the science and engineering achievements of its age, soaring 300m / 984 ft. (320.75m / 1,052 ft. including antenna) and weighing 7000 tons, the structure consists of two visibly distinct parts: a base composed of a platform resting on four separate supports (called pylons or bents) and, above this, a slender tower created as the bents taper upward, rising above a second platform to merge in a unified column.

This unprecedented work, the tallest structure in the world until the Empire State Building was built about 40 years later, had several antecedents. Among them were the iron-supported railway viaducts designed by Eiffel, an arch bridge over the Douro River in Portugal with a span of 160 m (525 ft), and a design for a circular, iron-frame tower proposed by the American engineers Clarke and Reeves for the Centennial Exposition of 1876. Eiffel knew and publicly acknowledged this influence; he was no stranger to the United States, having designed the wrought-iron pylon inside Frederic Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty in 1885. Later in the same year, he had also begun work on the cupola of the Nice observatory.

Eiffel was the leading European authority on the aerodynamics of high frames (he wrote "The Resistance of the Air" in 1913). In the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the curve of the base pylons was precisely calculated so that the bending and shearing forces of the wind were progressively transformed into forces of compression, which the bents could withstand more effectively. Such was Eiffel's engineering wizardry that even in the strongest winds his tower never sways more than 4-1/2 inches. The superskyscrapers erected since 1960, such as the World Trade Center, were constructed in much the same way.

However difficult its birth may have been, the Tour Eiffel is now completely accepted by French citizens, and is internationally recognized as one of the symbols of Paris itself.

Facilities and Views

In the basements of the eastern and western pillars, one can visit the gargantuan 1899 machinery which powers the elevators, an astonishing spectacle reminiscent of a Jules Verne novel. From the Tower's three platforms — especially the topmost — the view of Paris is superb. It is generally agreed that one hour before sunset, the panorama is at its best; don't forget to bring your camera, and experiment with the f-stop settings to capture a dazzling sunset on the Seine. If you can't be there in person, then check out a Live Aerial View of Paris with TF1's webcam online: from the top of the Eiffel Tower, you can see Paris in real time, 24 hours a day, whatever the weather conditions in the French capital. To get the most out of this view of Paris, we suggest you surf their web site between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM GMT (1:00 AM and 3:00 PM Eastern Time in the U.S.), when the City of Light is at its best.

First level: 57.63 meters (189 feet). Observatory from which to study the movements of the Eiffel Tower's summit. Kiosk presentation about the mythic painting of the Eiffel Tower. Space CINEIFFEL: offers an exceptional panorama of sights from the Tower. Souvenir shops (yes, every tourist MUST have a miniature replica). Restaurant "Altitude 95" (phone 01-45-55-20-04). Post office, with special stamps "Paris Eiffel Tower ". Panoramic gallery displaying the Monuments of Paris.

Second level: 115.73 meters (379 feet, 8 inches). Panorama of Paris. Telescopes, shops. Animated displays on the operation of the elevators. Jules Verne Restaurant (extremely expensive, reservations absolutely necessary; phone 01-45-55-61-44).

Third level: 276.13 meters (905 feet, 11 inches). Exceptional panoramic views, day or night, of Paris and its surroundings. Recently restored office of Gustave Eiffel, showing him welcoming Thomas Edison. Panoramic guide displays to aid orientation. Dioramas presenting the history of this platform.

Probably the best approach to the tower is to take the Métro to the Trocadéro station and walk from the Palais de Chaillot to the Seine. Besides fabulous views, especially when the Trocadéro fountains are in full force, you get a free show from the dancers and acrobats who perform around the Palais de Chaillot. The vast green esplanade beneath the tower is the Parc du Champs-de-Mars, which extends all the way to the 18th-century Ecole Militaire (Military Academy), at its southeast end. This formal lawn was once a parade ground for French troops.

The Eiffel Tower at night is one of the great sights of Paris and shouldn't be missed. The gold lighting highlights the delicacy of the steelwork in a way that is missed in daylight. Skip the tour buses and pickpockets on Trocadéro and head up to the Ecole Militaire for a more tranquil view.


Interesting Facts:

  • 300 steel workers, and 2 years (1887-1889) to construct it.
  • 15,000 iron pieces (excluding rivets).
  • 2.5 million rivets.
  • 40 tons of paint.
  • 1671 steps to the top.
  • Maximum sway at top caused by wind: 12 cm (4.75 inches).
  • Maximum sway at top caused by metal dilation: 18 cm (7 inches).
  • Total height in 1889: 300.51 meters (985 feet, 11 inches).
  • Total height with television antenna: 320.755 meters (1052 feet, 4 inches).
  • Height varies up to 15 cm depending on temperature.
  • Size of base area: 10,281.96 square meters (2.54 acres).
  • Weight of foundations: 277,602 kg (306 tons).
  • Weight of iron: 7.34 million kg (8092.2 tons).
  • Weight of elevator systems: 946,000 kg (1042.8 tons).
  • Total weight: 8.56 million kg (9441 tons).
  • Pressure on foundation: 4.1 to 4.5 kg per square centimeter, depending on pier (58.26 to 64 lbs. per square inch).
  • Dates of construction: January 26, 1887 to March 31, 1889.
  • Cost of construction: 7.8 million francs ($1.5 million).
  • Total number of visitors during 1889 Exposition: 1,968,287.
  • Total receipts during 1889 Exposition: 5,919,884 francs ($1.14 million).
  • Total number of visitors during 2002: 6,157,042.

During its lifetime, the Eiffel Tower has witnessed a few strange scenes, including being scaled by a mountaineer in 1954, and two Englishmen parachuting off it in 1984. In 1923, the journalist Pierre Labric (who was later to become mayor of Montmartre) rode a bicycle down from the first level; some accounts say he rode down the stairs, others suggest the exterior of one of the tower's four legs which slope outward.

Politics have also played a role in its life. During World War II, the Germans hung a sign on it that read: "Deutschland Siegt Auf Allen Fronten" ("Germany is victorious on all fronts"). In 1958, a few months before Fidel Castro's rise to power, Cuban revolutionaries hung their red-and-black flag from the first level, and, in 1979, an American from Greenpeace hung o