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Definition: Eiffel Tower from The Columbia Encyclopedia

structure designed by A. G. Eiffel and erected in the Champ-de-Mars for the Paris exposition of 1889. The tower is 984 ft (300 m) high and consists of an iron framework supported on four masonry piers, from which rise four columns uniting to form one shaft. Three platforms at different heights (the intermediate platform just above the junction of the columns is 644 ft/196 m high) are reached by stairs and elevators. On the top of the tower are a meteorological station, a wireless station, and a television transmission antenna.

Summary Article: Eiffel Tower
From Eye Witness Travel Guide: Paris

Originally built to impress visitors to the 1889 Universal Exhibition, the Eiffel Tower (Tour Eiffel) was meant to be a temporary addition to the Paris skyline. Designed by the engineer Gustave Eiffel, it was fiercely decried by 19th-century aesthetes. The author Guy de Maupassant lunched there to avoid seeing it. The world’s tallest building until 1931, when New York’s Empire State Building was completed, the tower is now the symbol of Paris. Freshly painted every 7 years, with a light show that plays every night on the hour, the Tour Eiffel has never looked better.

Eiffel Tower from the Trocadéro

The Tower in Figures
  • the top (including the antennae) is 324 m (1,063 ft) high

  • the top can move in a curve of 18 cm (7 in) under the effect of heat

  • 1,665 steps to the third level

  • 2.5 million rivets hold the tower together

  • never sways more than 7 cm (2.5 in)

  • 10,100 tonnes in weight

  • 60 tonnes of paint are used every seven years

The Daring and the Deluded

The tower has inspired many crazy stunts. It has been climbed by mountaineers, cycled down by a journalist, and used by trapeze artists and as a launch pad by parachutists. In 1912 an Austrian tailor, Franz Reichelt, attempted to fly from the parapet with only a modified cape for wings. He plunged to his death in front of a large crowd. According to the autopsy, he died of a heart attack before even touching the ground.

Visitors’ checklist
  • Champ de Mars.
  • Tel 08 92 70 12 39
  • Metro station Bir Hakeim.
  • Bus route 42, 69, 72, 82, 87 to Champ de Mars.
  • Regional railway station Champ de Mars.
  • Batobus boarding point Tour Eiffel.
  • Parking on site.
  • Open Sep–mid-Jun: 9.30am–11.45pm daily (6.30pm for stairs); mid-Jun–Aug: 9am–0.45am (last adm 45 mins before, last lift to top 1 hr 15 mins before).
  • Admission charge
  • Photography
  • Wheelchair access limited.
  • Restaurant
  • Shop
  • Films.

Viewing Gallery

On a clear day it is possible to see for 72 km (45 miles), including a distant view of Chartres Cathedral.

Double-Decker Lifts

During the tourist season, the limited capacity of the lifts means that it can take up to a couple of hours to reach the top. Queuing for the lifts requires patience and a good head for heights.

Eiffel Bust

Eiffel’s (1832–1923) achievement was crowned with the Légion d’Honneur in 1889. Another honour was the bust by Antoine Bourdelle, placed beneath the tower in 1929.

Hydraulic Lift Mechanism

Still in working order, this part of the original 1900 mechanism was automated in 1986.


The gardens of this former parade ground stretch from the base of the tower to the École Militaire.

Lift Engine Room

Eiffel emphasized safety over speed when choosing the lifts for the tower.

Ironwork Pattern

According to Eiffel, the complex pattern of wrought-iron girders came from the need to stabilize the tower in strong winds. But Eiffel’s design quickly won admirers for its pleasing symmetry.

Star features
  • Hydraulic Lift Mechanism

  • Viewing Gallery

  • Eiffel Bust

© 2012 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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