Eiffel Tower - History

Eiffel Tower - History

In 1890 the Eiffel Tower was completed.

For the Universal Exhibition of 1889, four majestic wooden pavilions designed by Stephen Sauvestre decked the platform on the first floor. Each restaurant could seat 500 people. The kitchens were attached to the underside of the platform and, until 1900, the restaurants relied on gas lights.

  • Trocadéro side: A bar dubbed the “Flamand” (the Flemish) instead served Alsatian cuisine, and the waitresses wore regional clothing. It was then transformed into a very popular theater. During the Exhibition of 1900, however, it did become a short-lived restaurant again, and described as Dutch this time. The theatre resumed its activities up until war broke out in 1914.
  • Between the Eastern and Northern pillars: A typical Russian restaurant welcomed visitors.
  • Champ-de-Mars side: Visitors were offered French fare at Brébant, which was for a long time considered a chic restaurant.

These four establishments were demolished for the International Exhibition of 1937, which led to a complete overhaul of the Tower's first floor. Only two restaurants were then rebuilt, one where the Russian restaurant had been, and the other where the Dutch one had. The architect Auguste Granet, who was married to the granddaughter of Gustave Eiffel, headed the 1930s-style construction.

In the early 1980s, these restaurants were replaced when the Tower underwent major renovations. The brand-new "La Belle France" and "Le Parisien" became the two not-to-be-missed gourmet restaurants on the Eiffel Tower. In 1996, “La Belle France” and “Le Parisien” were transformed into one huge brasserie. Decorated by Slavik and Loup, with a hot air balloon inspired theme, its structure emphasized the view of Paris. It was named the “Altitude 95,” a winking reference to aerial navigation, owing to its location 95 metres above sea level.

After a complete refurbishment at the end of 2008, the establishment was reopened to the public in early 2009: the “58 TOUR EIFFEL” welcomed its first customers. During the day, it’s picnic chic in the Parisian sky! And in the evening, a one on one romantic dinner with the City of Light. Refined dishes, an intimate atmosphere, an outstanding decor and a warm welcome: all the ingredients you need for a restaurant that lives up to your every expectation!

In the autumn 2018, the French Chef Thierry Marx took the helm of the brasserie to transform it progressively. The restaurant is currently being renovated and refurbished. Prepare for an exceptional new brasserie in 2022!


Its construction in 2 years, 2 months and 5 days was a veritable technical and architectural achievement. "Utopia achieved", a symbol of technological prowess, at the end of the 19th Century it was a demonstration of French engineering personified by Gustave Eiffel, and a defining moment of the industrial era. It was met immediately with tremendous success.

Only intended to last 20 years, it was saved by the scientific experiments that Eiffel encouraged, and in particular by the first radio transmissions, followed by telecommunications. For example, the radio signals from the Pantheon Tower in 1898 it served as a military radio post in 1903 it transmitted the first public radio programme in 1925, and then broadcast television up to TNT more recently.

Since the 1980s, the monument has regularly been renovated, restored and adapted for an ever-growing public.

Over the decades, the Eiffel Tower has seen remarkable achievements, extraordinary light shows, and prestigious visitors. A mythical and audacious site, it has always inspired artists and challenges.

It is the stage for numerous events of international significance (light shows, the Tower’s centenary, the Year 2000 pyrotechnic show, repainting campaigns, sparkling lights, the blue Tower to mark France’s Presidency of the European Union or the multicoloured Tower for its 120th birthday, unusual fixtures, such as an ice rink, a garden etc.).

Like all towers, it allows us to see and to be seen, with a spectacular ascent, a unique panoramic view of Paris, and a glittering beacon in the skies of the Capital.

The Tower also represents the magic of light. Its lighting, its sparkling lights, and its beacon shine and inspire dreams every evening.

As France’s symbol in the world, and the showcase of Paris, today it welcomes almost 7 million visitors a year (around 75% of whom are foreigners), making it the most visited monument that you have to pay for in the world.

A universal Tower of Babel, almost 300 million visitors regardless of age or origin have come from all over the planet to see it since its opening in 1889.


The Eiffel Tower’s history, en bref:

Let’s start from the bottom, shall we? First commissioned as the entrance for the Exposition Universelle in 1889—the centenary celebration of the French Revolution—the Tower was originally meant to stand for a mere 20 years. Gustave Eiffel, known for his expertise in metalwork, was awarded the contract—though it was famously an engineer named Maurice Koechlin who designed most of the structure. It wasn’t until 1909 that the Tower gained permanent status in the city after proving its worth as a radio beacon.


Navigation Guide

The history of Eiffel Tower stems from France’s desire to showcase its industrial prowess. On the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, the French saw it fit to commemorate the occasion with a larger-than-life model.

The French government called in people to study the possibility of designing and constructing a tower, which required a square base that was 125 meters wide and around 300 meters tall.


Eiffel Tower Can Power More Than Lights

In new research from Compare the Market in Australia, the energy needed to power the Eiffel Tower’s twinkling light show has been compared to an assortment of electrical items to determine what else could be powered using the same amount of energy.

The 20,000 light globes on the Eiffel Tower twinkle for five minutes every hour and require 10 kilowatts (kW) every time they light up the sky for that short period of time. The lights are illuminated over 2,500 times per year, totalling around 166 hours despite such small intervals. That same amount of power could also power a range of other electronic activities, ranging from charging smart devices to running high-powered sound systems at loud performance venues.

For example, harnessing the power from the lights for just one hour could be enough to fully recharge 555 iPhone SEs. It is also enough to illuminate a red neon sign that is twice the size of the tower itself, assuming that it consumes the regular four watts per foot of sign. If this were to happen, the sign would be 2,500 feet high.

Other things that could be powered by the power of the Eiffel Tower’s lights include a PA system that boasts 10,000W of power, inspired by the 1972 performance at London’s Rainbow Theatre by group Deep Purple, whose performance made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the loudest concert of all time. The sound reached as high as 117 decibels and was loud enough that it left three unfortunate patrons unconscious.

Ever fancied a cup of coffee? How does 14,000 cups sound? Well, 10kW is enough to do just that. The power harnessed by the Eiffel Tower’s lights in a five-minute period is enough to brew one cup of coffee every day for the next 39 years, one three a day for 13 years.


A brief history of the Eiffel Tower

In this article, I want to share a brief history of the Eiffel Tower. There are many articles about this iconic monument, which is why I’ve decided to write a small article to talk about its history! You will get to know the Iron Lady a little better, before actually meeting it!

The Eiffel Tower was erected in 1889. It is now the symbol of the city of Paris! Its history is very interesting. Its construction has caused a few worries to its creator, Gustave Eiffel. Its design was innovative and different from the architecture of the time, which is why it wasn’t even supposed to remain. It was a temporary construction that was to stay only twenty years. But its revolutionary architectural style changed its fate. Now, approximately 7 million visitors climb the Eiffel Tower every year! Now, you’re going to learn about when the Eiffel Tower was built and how long it took, who built the Eiffel Tower, why they built it, and if it was indeed as beloved back then as it is now. Read on and find out more about the brief history of the Eiffel Tower…

When was the Eiffel Tower built?

The construction time of the Eiffel Tower is actually quite impressive. The first digging work started on the January 28th 1887. On March 31st 1889, the Tower had been finished in record time. It only took a total of 2 years, 2 months and 5 days to construct! But who decided to place this giant object in the middle of the city? Keep reading to find out more.

Who built the Eiffel Tower?

The Eiffel Tower was named after Gustave Eiffel, whose company was in charge of the project. Gustave Eiffel was not, however, the primary designer of the famous iron structure. Eiffel had the help of engineers that worked for him in the Compagnie des Établissements Eiffel – Maurice Koechlin , Émile Nouguier, and architect Stephen Sauvestre.

In recognition of the engineers, scientists and mathematicians who contributed to the construction of the tower, the names of these persons were engraved on the side of tower. 72 names, to be exact.

Why was the Eiffel Tower built ?

At the time of the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the architecture became industrial. The industry and the creativity were combined for the construction of the monument.

The Eiffel Tower was built in 1889 to celebrate the French Revolution’s centennial year during the Exposition Universelle at the Champs de Mars. The purpose was to show the other nations the power and the industrial abilities of France. The tower was constructed by the Seine and its rounded shape was used as the entry to the exhibition. The Eiffel Tower was entrance to the Exposition Universelle.

The iron structure marked the beginning of a new form of architecture. In 1884, two important engineers that worked in the Eiffel Enterprise, which was founded by Gustave Eiffel, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, started making plans for the 1889 Exposition Universelle. They proposed the project of a 300 meters tall tower. Then, Gustave Eiffel asked Stephen Sauvestre to redesign and refine the tower. Sauvestre added a few arcs and decorations. He beautified the project.

The construction lasted for two years, two months and five days. This was a technical achievement. Each piece of the tower is designed and calculated with utmost accuracy. The steel industry was burgeoning and strongly influenced the choice of materials. Iron was produced in large quantities and its price was affordable, which allowed the construction of imposing structures, such as the Eiffel Tower.

Did the Parisians like the iron structure?

Today, the Parisians are proud of the impressive Eiffel Tower. It stands tall above the city and definitely became the most emblematic monument of the city! But when the construction was over, most Parisians hated it!

In a letter signed by artists of reference, such as Guy de Maupassant, the critics were very harsh. They thought the iron structure outshone the classic and elegant city of Paris. Parisians talked about the Eiffel Tower as “grid” and “factory chimney”.

Despite the criticisms, the Eiffel Tower established itself as one of the highlights of the city.

Was the Eiffel Tower meant to be destroyed?

The Eiffel Tower was to be a temporary structure. Its sole purpose was for the Exposition Universelle. After the exhibition, it was to stay for twenty years and then be destroyed.

In 1897, the first broadcasts of radio began. So, the Eiffel Tower became a strategic point for the city. It wasn’t a simple place to visit, it gained a strategic and military purpose. This is what convinced the city of Paris to keep the Eiffel Tower. During the first World War, the tower captured important telegrams, precious information was deciphered, and spies were exposed. Today, the tower contains 120 antennas. 32 radio stations and 40 TV channels broadcast from the top of the monument.

If you’re interested in the Eiffel Tower, read the following articles:

The history of the Eiffel Tower is quite amazing and unique. Its original purpose was to show the way to the Exposition Universelle, but it turned out to be the symbol of the city of Paris. One can say that the iron structure achieved many exploits and it definitely changed peoples’ minds with its new architectual style. The Eiffel Tower was a major role in the industrial revolution. It represented the evolution of a growing Europe. One of the most iconic parts of the Eiffel Tower these days is the view of it at night. Every hour after sundown, the tower sparkles for five minutes on the hour, and it’s truly a splendid site to see.

And now that you know a little more about the history of the Eiffel Tower, I’m sure you will thoroughly enjoy visiting the tower! Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further information about anything! I hope to see you soon in one of our tours in Paris!

With all your newfound knowledge on a brief history of the Eiffel Tower, check out one of our other articles on the top 9 fun facts about the Eiffel Tower! You’ll soon be an expert on all things “Tour-Eiffel”, and will have some impressive facts to impress people at dinner parties. Like, for example, did you know one woman married the Eiffel Tower because she was so in love with it? You heard that right. Also, they actually shot a music video at the top of the Eiffel Tower! Read more of the facts and let us know which are your favorites!

*Updated by Arielle in February 2020

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Anna was born and raised in Paris. She studied Languages in Paris and Social Communication in Lisbon. Anna also lived in Madrid for a year. She has been to many places and hopes to go places. Wherever she goes, she always tries to experience each city as locals do. Anna usually has croissants for breakfast in Paris, takes a walk in Camden Town in London, eats lunch in Chiado in Lisbon, and enjoys Madrid's nightlife.


From the Second World War to the Renovation (1945-1980)

Progress in broadcasting

After the Second World War, progress was resumed and wireless communications experiments continued. It should be noted that the Germans had left on the Eiffel Tower a Telefunken transmitter named "Fernsehsender Paris", which means "TV channel of Paris". This transmitter broadcast in 441 lines what was important for the time. It will be replaced following a fire by another more efficient one of 819 lines, then by a new one after the end of the diffusion of TF1 in black and white. Finally, in 2005, a new transmitter was born, that of terrestrial digital television (DTT).

The Eiffel Tower was of great importance, a radio-television issue. Thus in 1953 the first broadcast in Eurovision, the crowning of Queen Elizabeth II, was broadcast on air.

In parallel with the improvement of the techniques and therefore of the broadcast equipment, the antennas are also progressing. The Eiffel Tower receives in 1959 a new antenna that raises its size to 318.70m. It will be replaced in the year 2000 by another more efficient, and higher also, the tower passing to 324m high (current height).

Changes to the tower

During this period the Eiffel Tower did not really evolve. In 1952 it received an aeronautical beacon light that replaces that of Mount Valérien, destroyed during the war. It had an immense range, up to 300Kms.

The renovation of 1980

1980, it is also the year of the renovation of the tower. Unlike the Statue of Liberty, which the Americans never really knew how to maintain, the Eiffel Tower has always been carefully maintained. The planning of the painting was perfectly followed, with the notable exception of the period of the First World War, where it took another three years. But nearly a century later, the tower could be analyzed and modified, because the initial calculations of Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, the designers, were perfectible with modern means. Thus, the structure was relieved of 1340 tons by removing many unnecessary girders, and the staircases and lifts which had become obsolete were replaced. Finally, security features were added to deal with the explosion of tourists, the 1980s corresponding to the beginnings of mass tourism in Europe. Moreover the oldest still remember the protective grilles of before the 80s, rather low. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to climb them, even when climbing the stairs. In addition to these works, the painters painted the names of the scholars who went around the first floor, and were masked during the renovations of 1937. The restaurant "Le Jules Verne" is located on the first floor. 'acts as soon as it opens a gourmet restaurant.

This renovation was accompanied by anti-corrosion treatment and a paint campaign covering the entire tower, and finally by the renovation of the lighting system, which will consist for some years of 352 sodium.


Eiffel Tower (1887-89) Paris

Architectural Terminology
For a guide to terms used,
see: Architecture Glossary.

Evolution of Art
For a chronological guide to arts, crafts and
architecture throughout the ages, please see:
History of Art Timeline (2,500,000 BCE - Present)

The Eiffel Tower (La tour Eiffel) - Paris's most iconic landmark and the most recognizable masterpiece of nineteenth century architecture - is a 324 metre-high iron lattice tower located near the Seine, on the Champ de Mars to the west of the city. It was erected in 1887-89 as part of Exposition Universelle (World Fair) of 1889, held in Paris to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution, and named after Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) whose company built it. It was co-designed by Maurice Koechlin (1856-1946), Emile Nouguier (1840-98), with the assistance of Stephen Sauvestre (1847-1919), all of whom worked for Eiffel. Although at the time the tower's aesthetics attracted a storm of controversy, today it is acknowledged to be a unique work of modern art as well as an outstanding technical achievement, and fully justifies Eiffel's claim to be one of the greatest architects of the modern era, in France. The tower remains the tallest building in Paris and receives nearly 7 million visitors per year, making it one of the most-visited monuments in the world. See also Victorian architecture (1840-1900).

For another important architectural and cultural landmark in Paris, see Notre Dame Cathedral (1163-1345).

Facts About the Eiffel Tower

Conceived in 1884, construction of the tower began in 1887 and involved some 50 engineers, 100 iron workers, and 121 construction workers. It was completed on March 31, 1889, at a cost of 7,800,000 French gold francs. The main structure of the tower is composed of wrought-iron, coated (at present) with bronze paint. It is 324 metres (1,063 ft) in height, weighs a total of 10,000 tonnes (73 percent wrought-iron), and for 41 years it remained the tallest man-made structure in the world, until superceded by New York's Chrysler Building, designed by William van Alen (1883-1954), in 1930. Ironically, the height of the tower was raised in 1957 when an aerial was added to the top of the structure, making it 5.2 metres (17 feet) taller than Chrysler. The height of the building varies by 15 centimetres (5.9 inches) due to temperature, and the structure sways a mere 7 centimetres (2ן inches) in the wind. The tower has three levels, with restaurants on the first and second. The third level observatory is 276 metres (906 feet) above ground level. Of the 40 or so replicas of the Eiffel Tower, only two are full size: the Tokyo Tower in Japan and the Long Ta communications tower in China.

In May 1884 the Swiss structural engineer Maurice Koechlin, together with the French civil engineer and architect Emile Nouguier - both taken on by Gustave Eiffel's company to help with the tower's architecture - made the first outline drawing of the structure, which they described as a huge pylon, made up of four lattice girders set apart at the base and coming together at the top, connected by metal trusses at regular intervals. Allowed to pursue the project further by Eiffel, they consulted Stephen Sauvestre - head of company's architectural department - who suggested adding decorative arches to the base, as well as other minor embellishments. Eiffel approved and purchased the rights to the design, which he exhibited at the Exhibition of Decorative Arts in the autumn of 1884.

In May 1886, following the re-election of Jules Grevy (1807-91) as President of France and Edouard Lockroy (1838-1913) as Minister of Commerce and Industry, a commission was set up to judge entries for the Exposition Universelle, which (for whatever reason) determined to choose Eiffel's architectural scheme with little or no consideration of the 100 or so alternatives. A contract was therefore signed in January 1887, which caused amazement as well as a wave of criticism, on both technical and aesthetic grounds. A committee was formed to fight the proposal, under the leadership of the renowned architect Charles Garnier (1825-98), which included a number of important figures in French arts, such as the academic painter Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) and the writer Guy de Maupassant (1850-93). Later of course opinions changed, and in 1964 the Tower was officially designated a historical monument by Minister of Cultural Affairs Andre Malraux (1901-76). In August 1944, as Allied forces were about to enter Paris, Hitler ordered the city's military governor to blow-up the tower along with several other important cultural sites. Luckily the governor disobeyed the order.

Construction and Architecture

After winning the contract to build the tower, Gustave Eiffel discovered that the Exposition Committee would only contribute about 25 percent of the finance needed to build it. They wanted Eiffel himself to pay the balance, which he agreed to do provided he was allowed complete control over the tower and its profits for twenty years. The committee agreed, the tower paid for itself in the first year, and Gustave Eiffel made a fortune.

Work on the foundations began on 28 January 1887. The open-lattice iron structure consisted of four massive arched legs, set on masonry piers, that curve inward until they meet in a single, tapered tower. Each leg rests on four concrete slabs (each 6 m thick), which required foundations of up to 22 m (72 feet) in depth. The iron base of the tower was connected to the stonework by bolts which were 10 centimetres (4 inches) in diameter and 7.5 metres (25 ft) in length. In total 18,000 pieces were used to build the tower, joined by two and a half million thermally assembled rivets. Every piece was tooled specifically for the project and manufactured in Eiffel's factory in Paris.

Amazingly the entire building project was completed in less than 2 years and 7 weeks, and despite the fact that 300 workers were employed on-site, there was only one health and safety death - thanks largely to Eiffel's strict safety precautions.

One of the key features of the Eiffel Tower was its system of elevators. The glass-cage machines selected by Eiffel were made by Otis Elevator Company in the United States - as no French company was able to meet the technical specifications laid down - who helped to establish the tower as one of Europe's major tourist attractions.

It opened to the public on May 15, 1889 and by the close of the Exposition on October 31st had received 1,896,987 visitors, including the British Prince of Wales, the inventor Thomas Edison, the actress Sarah Bernhardt, and the cowboy Buffalo Bill Cody. Since then, more than 250 million tourists have visited the tower.

Other Similar Structures

Although it was the world's tallest man-made structure when first built, the Eiffel Tower has since fallen in the rankings as the tallest lattice tower and as the tallest structure in France. Taller lattice towers include:

• Tokyo Skytree (2011) 634 metres (2,080 ft) Tokyo, Japan.
• Kiev TV Tower (1973) 385 metres (1,263 ft) Kiev, Ukraine.
• Tashkent Tower (1985) 375 metres (1,230 ft) Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
• Pylons of Zhoushan Island (2009) 370 metres (1,214 ft) China.
• Pylons of Yangtze River Crossing (2003) 347 metres (1,137 ft) China.
• Dragon Tower (2000) 336 metres (1,102 ft) Harbin, China.
• Tokyo Tower (1958) 333 metres (1,091 ft) Tokyo, Japan.
• WITI TV Tower(1962) 329 metres (1,078 ft) Wisconsin, USA.
• WSB TV Tower (1957) 328 metres (1,075 ft) Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Who Was Gustave Eiffel?

Born in Dijon, Gustave Eiffel was a French civil engineer and architect. After graduating in 1855 from the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, he specialized in metal construction, notably bridges, such as the Garabit viaduct (1884). Although best known for the Eiffel Tower, he also designed a number of other major structures including: the Budapest Nyugati Palyaudvar (Western railway station), Hungary (1877) the Ponte Dona Maria railway bridge (Douro Viaduct) (1877) Porto, Portugal. In 1881 he was contacted by Auguste Bartholdi (1834-1904) who needed an engineer to help him complete the Statue of Liberty, following the death of architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc (1814-79). Eiffel was selected because of his expertise with iron and wind stresses. Eiffel, helped by Maurice Koechlin, a young graduate of the Zurich Polytechnikum, designed a structure made up of a four legged pylon to support the body of the statue. (The statue's pedestal was designed separately by Richard Morris Hunt: 1827-95.) The complete statue was first erected at Eiffel's works in Paris before being dismantled and shipped to America. Later in life he focused on meteorology and aerodynamics. While fortunate to be working at a time of rapid industrial growth in France, Eiffel was also highly attuned to the merits of wrought-iron in architectural design, and willing to explore new techniques of prefabrication. He also adapted new techniques invented by others, such as compressed-air caissons and hollow cast-iron piers, while all the while paying close attention to accuracy in architectural drawing and site safety.

As it was, Eiffel's preference for metal frames was widely confirmed when iron and steel rapidly replaced stone in the design and construction of tall buildings around the world. For details of this form of Skyscraper Architecture, see William Le Baron Jenney (1832-1907) - leader of the Chicago School of Architecture - whose Home Insurance Building - most of which was composed of cast and wrought iron - was built in Chicago four years prior to Eiffel's tower.

More Articles about 19th Century Architecture

• James Renwick (1818-95)
Gothic Revival designer noted for St Patrick's Cathedral, NY.
• Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-86)
Neo-Romanesque architect famous for Marshall Field Wholesale Store.
• Antoni Gaudi (1852-1926)
Catalan architect, famous for Sagrada Familia, Barcelona.
• Cass Gilbert (1859-1934)
Pioneer of Beaux-Arts architecture.
• Victor Horta (1861-1947)
Art Nouveau architect, noted for glass/cast-iron designs.
• Joseph Maria Olbrich (1867-1908)
Co-founder of Vienna Secession along with Klimt and Josef Hoffmann.


The Eiffel Tower has been copied a whole bunch

There's no getting around the fact that the Eiffel Tower is an icon — and one of the world's most visited destinations. The almost two million visitors who viewed the Eiffel Tower in its first year of existence back in 1889 were only the beginning: according to CNN, nearly seven million people visit each year. That's almost 300 million visitors since its opening.

But while there's only one original, everyone seems to want to experience the Eiffel Tower — even if they can't get to Paris. There are replica Eiffel Towers all over the world, in various scales. From the Eiffel Tower Experience at Paris Las Vegas to copies in China, Greece, and Paris (Texas, that is), if you want to catch some tourists, apparently all you have to do is put up a mini Eiffel Tower. Architectural Digest rounded up a list of the top 16 replicas, though there are 50 worldwide and counting. One of the most famous is probably the one in Paris, Texas, which stands 60 feet tall and, as Atlas Obscura notes, wears its own screaming red cowboy hat.