The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. It was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair, it was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010. The tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world
The tower is 1,063 feet tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest human-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930.
The tower has three levels for visitors, with restaurants on the first and second. The third level observatory’s upper platform is 906 feet above the ground, the highest accessible to the public in the European Union.
Before construction began, Gustave Eiffel said the Eiffel Tower would symbolize:
“not only the art of the modern engineer, but also the century of Industry and Science in which we are living, and for which the way was prepared by the great scientific movement of the eighteenth century and by the Revolution of 1789, to which this monument will be built as an expression of France’s gratitude.”
The Artists Protest
The projected tower had been a subject of some controversy, attracting criticism from both those who did not believe that it was feasible and those who objected on artistic grounds, whose objections were an expression of a longstanding debate about the relationship between architecture and engineering. This came to a head as work began at the Champ de Mars: A “Committee of Three Hundred” (one member for each meter of the tower’s height) was formed, led by the prominent architect Charles Garnier and including some of the most important figures of the French arts establishment, including Adolphe Bouguereau, Guy de Maupassant, Charles Gounod and Jules Massenet: a petition was sent to Charles Alphand, the Minister of Works and Commissioner for the Exposition, and was published by Le Temps.
“We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection…of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower…To bring our arguments home, imagine for a moment a giddy, ridiculous tower dominating Paris like a gigantic black smokestack, crushing under its barbaric bulk Notre Dame, the Tour Saint-Jacques, the Louvre, the Dome of les Invalides, the Arc de Triomphe, all of our humiliated monuments will disappear in this ghastly dream. And for twenty years…we shall see stretching like a blot of ink the hateful shadow of the hateful column of bolted sheet metal”
Gustave Eiffel responded to these criticisms by comparing his tower to the Egyptian Pyramids: “My tower will be the tallest edifice ever erected by man. Will it not also be grandiose in its way? And why would something admirable in Egypt become hideous and ridiculous in Paris?”
Eiffel was similarly unworried of the criticism, pointing out to a journalist that it was premature to judge the effect of the tower solely on the basis of the drawings, that the Champ de Mars was distant enough from the monuments mentioned in the protest for there to be little risk of the tower overwhelming them, and putting the aesthetic argument for the Tower: “Do not the laws of natural forces always conform to the secret laws of harmony?”
Some of the protestors were to change their minds when the tower was built: others remained unconvinced. Guy de Maupassant supposedly ate lunch in the tower’s restaurant every day because it was the one place in Paris where the tower was not visible.Today, the Tower is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.
Gustave Eiffel engraved on the tower seventy-two names of French scientists, engineers, and mathematicians in recognition of their contributions. This engraving was painted over at the beginning of the twentieth century but restored in 1986–1987 by the Société Nouvelle d’exploitation de la Tour Eiffel, a company contracted to operate business related to the Tower.
In order to give the appearance of uniform colour the paint used is graduated in tone to counteract the effect of atmospheric perspective, and is lighter at the bottom, getting darker towards the top. Periodically the color of the paint is changed; as of 2013 it is bronze colored. On the first floor there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the color to use for the next repaint.
As one of the most iconic structures in the world, the Eiffel Tower has been the inspiration for the creation of over 30 duplicates and similar towers around the world.
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