Towering Above the Rest

Sunday, May 01, 2011 Road Junkies 0 Comments

PARIS, France — As we were traveling around Paris today looking for letterboxes, we saw some of the quintessential Parisian sights, those visited by every tourist and recognized the world over.  The most famous, of course, is the Eiffel Tower.  Although this was our third time to see the tower, it never ceases to create a jolt of excitement.
Built in 1889 as the entrance arch for a World's Fair type exposition marking the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest building in Paris and the world's most visited monument.  At 1,063 feet (about the height of an 81-story building), the tower has become a universal symbol of France and one of the most recognized structures in the world.

Originally intended as a temporary structure, the tower was meant to be dismantled after 20 years.  When the construction was complete, many Parisians considered it an eyesore.  However, the initial opposition to its design  were overcome, and when the tower was found to be extremely helpful to radio transmission, it was allowed to remain.

Interesting Facts about the Eiffel Tower:
  1. When Thomas Edison visited the tower in 1889, he signed the guestbook with this statement:  "To M Eiffel the Engineer the brave builder of so gigantic and original specimen of modern Engineering from one who has the greatest respect and admiration for all Engineers including the Great Engineer the Bon Dieu, Thomas Edison."

  2.  The tower lost its title as the world's largest structure in 1930 when the Chrysler Building in New York was completed.

  3. When Paris was occupied by Nazi Germany in 1940, the French cut the cables to the elevator at the tower, determined that if Adolf Hitler was to make it to the top he would have to climb.

  4. The tower has seven million visitors per year; 75% are foreigners.

  5. Maintenance schedules call for the tower to be repainted every seven years, a project requiring 60 tons of paint.

  6. The Eiffel Tower is one of the most replicated structures in the world.  The oldest duplicate is Blackpool Tower in Lancashire, England, built in 1894.  The largest and best known is the one at the Paris Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, about half the size of the original. Two American towns named Paris, in Texas and in Tennessee, also have copies.