Today is the 125th anniversary of the official completion of the Eiffel Tower. On my first visit to Paris many years ago, I spent an entire morning taking dozens of photos in every direction from viewing platform (like the panorama above), but on subsequent visits, I was content to see it from ground level and avoid the crowds. I thought I knew a lot about the iconic edifice, but was surprised by this list of facts:
- The Eiffel Tower was built in a record breaking time of two years, two months, and five days, after a January 28, 1887 groundbreaking.
- Gustave Eiffel had it built specifically to celebrate the 1889 Exposition Universelle and 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
- It hasn’t always been brown. It was temporarily painted yellow in 1889, and from 1954 to 1961, it was painted a reddish-browny color.
- In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Eiffel Tower acted as a billboard—three of its sides held advertisements for Citroën automobiles. No other brand has ever used the monument as an advertising medium.
5. For decades the locals hated it. In 1888 a group of Parisian artists, writers and architects called “The Committee of Three Hundred” it “monstrous.”
- In 1925 the first public radio transmissions were broadcast from the tower.
- The French newspaper Le Figaro actually set up a printing press on the second floor of the Eiffel Tower during its first year.
8. The Eiffel Tower is 4 to 8 inches shorter during the winter months due to shrinkage.
9. With nearly 7 million visitors each year (75% foreign), it’s the most visited monument in the world that charges admission.
10. During construction, Gustave Eiffel engraved the names of 72 eminent French scientists and engineers on the tower. They were shortly painted over and not uncovered again until 1986.