The Eiffel Tower blows out 133 candles, metaphorically speaking, because as many years ago this typical Parisian icon has been inaugurated solemnly. Even before it was put up as the business card for the world exhibition of 1889 it was already controversial and the intention was that after 20 years it would already disappear again. A giraffe cage according to some, and a treasure to others but heavy is the head that wears the crown. Anecdotes have accumulated over the years and as a birthday present we have put together a list of the 10 most remarkable facts. Happy birthday, sexy Eiffel Tower!

1. Safety first. Large parts of the Eiffel Tower were prefabricated at the factories of Eiffel in Levallois-Perret. On the wharf were never more than 250 steelworkers simultaneously at work and there was not a single deadly accident notwithstanding working on a large height, unique for these times. Alfred Eiffel was – as remarkable for these times – very committed to making sure his employees were safe. 

2. Who above whom? In 1998 the Eiffel Tower was with its 1,040ft (317m) the worlds highest monument, preceded by the iron spire (la Flêche) on the cathedral of Rouen. Until 1941 the iron giant was also the highest building worldwide, the Chrysler building in New York broke the record.

3. Saved through antennas. Even before the Eiffel Tower was build it was already controversial, some prominent artists and architects even signed a petition against the construction of it. The license was valid until December 13, 1909, hence 20 years but because it seemed valuable for telecommunications it escaped from being demolished. During World War I German radio messages were intercepted from the Eiffel Tower, this (among others) let to the arrest of Mati Hari. 

4.Recklessness. The Eiffel Tower has always attracted daredevils. In 1926 Lt. Léon Collot tried to fly between the two pillars of the Eiffel Tower with his small plane. A successful attempt if he would not have hit the transmission tower when exciting the arc. The crash was fatal for Collot. Another daredevil – or complete madman in my opinion – was the tailor Franz Reichelt, alias the Flying Man. He attempted in February 1912 to fly down the tower with a self-made batsuit, but he never had the chance to retell his story. He should have practiced in Mini Europe first. Less dramatically was Pierre Labri’s bicycling trip in 1923, the future mayor from Montmartre. He cycled down along the stairs from the first floor… where the police was waiting him up.

5. Most visited. Meanwhile more than 250 million people visited the Eiffel Tower and therefore the construction is one of the most frequented monuments in the world. In 1902, with only 121.144 entry tickets sold the number of visitors reached an all-time low, but from then onwards it only improved. In 2011 the milestone of 7 million visitors in a year was exceeded.

6. Yes, I do. In 2008 Erika La Tour Eiffel from San Francisco married the Eiffel Tower. The 37-year-old women suffering from ‘objectophilia’ claimed to have had an unhappy childhood and became more often in love with inanimate objects. 29 years earlier another Erika (Berliner-Mauer) married already with the Berlin Wall. They lived happily ever after.

7. Scrap. In 1925 the scammer Victor Lustig and his accomplice Dan Collins succeeded in selling the Eiffel Tower for old scrap. Lustig invited a couple of important scrap dealers and led them up the garden path with false documents of Postes et Télégraphes. He ‘sold’ the tower to the highest bidder, a quarter of the total sum had to be paid in advance. However, Lustig and Collins were later arrested.

8. Uninvited guests. In 1940 Adolf Hitler paid a quick visit to occupied Paris and of course this had to be accompanied with the ascent of its large icon. Unfortunately the elevators were sabotaged and the notorious megalomaniac did not like the sound of climbing the stairs whatsoever. Therefore he simply took a snapshot. To make matters worse, the wind also pulled a leg through blowing away the huge swastika flag that some German soldiers attached to the tower. Imagine what it must feel like.

9. Everyone’s tower. The Eiffel Tower has been recreated without hesitation across the entire world. The Eiffel Tower was the role model for the 197ft (60m) high Petrin Tower in Prague build for the Expo of 1891. Le Tour métallique de Fourvière in Lyon is with its 354ft (108m) height an exact copy of the third floor of the Parisian role model.  In Las Vegas – how could it be otherwise – stands a copy half as tall as the original. In the Chinese city of Hangzhou even an entire Parisian neighbourhood was constructed, including a 354ft (108m) tall casting of the Eiffel Tower. Only Japan did better with its 1089ft (332,6m) tall Tokyo-tower. This one is not only taller than its Parisian example; with its 4000ton it weights only half as much. For those who feel called upon: there are plenty of ‘DIY’ kits available on the market.

10. Raw figures.The construction of the Eiffel Tower started on January 28th, 1887 and was completed on March 31st 1889, its construction took twice as long as expected and the tower had a price back then of 6,5 million French Franc. The tower was constructed with more than 18,000 prefabricated cast-iron pieces and 2,5 million rivets and weights 7,300 ton. The base is 410ft x 410ft (125 x 125m), the total height is 1040ft (317m) without and 1062ft (324m) with antennas. In extremely hot weather the tower is 6 inches (15cm) higher and with strong winds it wobbles back and forth 5 inches (12cm), which can be felt. Every years the Eiffel Tower is repainted for which 25 painters and 52 tons of paint is needed. The metal construction is lit by 20,000 light bulbs along more than 18,6 miles (30km) of electrical cables. 


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