One hundred and thirty years ago, one of the world’s most iconic landmarks was constructed as an impressive centrepiece for the 1889 Paris Exposition, held to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution, writes Gerry Breen.
THE EIFFEL TOWER, which was officially inaugurated on 15th May, 1889, the opening day of the Exposition Universelle, was intended to be a temporary structure, but it has become a permanent iconic feature of the Parisian skyline. It remained the world’s largest building until the construction of the Chrysler Building in New York in 1930.
People from all over the world went to Paris to have a look at this masterpiec e. The tower was designed and built by Gustave Eiffel’s engineering company, Compagnie des Establissements Eiffel.
Curiously enough, Eiffel himself had very little to do with the design of the famous tower or with the actual construction. It was two senior engineers from his company who were responsible for the design. It was supposed to stand for twenty years and was meant to be dismantled in 1909.
The rules laid down for the original competition provided that the winning structure would have to be easily dismantled, but because it provided an important radio antenna for military purposes, it was allowed to remain standing.
It is now reckoned to be possibly the most popular paid monument in the world. More than six million tourists visit the famous tower every year, and it is estimated that around two hundred and fifty million people have visited it since it was officially opened in 1889. Around 25,000 visitors ascend the tower every day.
The tower has had quite an interesting career. It was originally intended to be built in Barcelona, not Paris, but the design was rejected by the Spanish, a decision that must have caused much regret amongst the Spanish tourism authorities over the years. The Eiffel Tower is now estimated to be worth around six hundred billion Euros. This is reckoned to be about six times the value of the Colosseum in Rome.