The iconic symbol of Paris, the Eiffel Tower opened to the public on March 31, 1889, and the graceful metal structure has continued to captivate the world for 130 years.
But some little known facts about the Eiffel Tower may surprise you. We’ve put together a list.
1) It was supposed to be torn down in 1909
The original intention was for the structure, which was built for the 1889 World’s Fair, to be demolished after 20 years. But engineer Gustave Eiffel later arranged to have a radio antenna and transmitter placed in the tower, and the importance of the tower to communications spared it from demolition. Currently 120 antennas broadcast radio and television transmissions from the tower.
2) The Eiffel Tower once housed a newspaper printing plant
During the 1889 World’s Fair, the newspaper?Le Figaro?set up a small printing operation on the third floor that produced a daily commemorative edition for visitors to buy.
3) It’s the world’s most visited paid tourist attraction
Almost seven million visitors each year pay the admission fee to visit the Eiffel Tower. Since the structure opened in 1889, nearly 300 million people have experienced the tower.
4) There’s an apartment at the top
A private apartment that Gustave Eiffel used as an office was created at the top of the tower. Eiffel entertained dignitaries there, and today visitors to the apartment will see it as it looked in Eiffel’s day, with life-like wax models of Eiffel and Thomas Edison.
5) You could send a postcard by balloon from the Eiffel Tower
As a promotion during the 1889 World’s Fair, visitors could buy a commemorative postcard that was attached to a balloon and a small parachute. Visitors would write an address on the postcard and release it into the air from the tower. The postcard was supposed to fall back to earth gently due to the parachute, but it’s not known how many of these postcards ever made it to their intended addresses.
6) The paint color of the Eiffel Tower presents an optical illusion
Because the taller sections of the tower are against the brighter sky, the bronze paint color is shaded slightly darker than the color closer to the ground. This is to give the impression that the tower is painted in a single shade.
7) You can enjoy some bubbly at the top
The Eiffel Tower has a champagne bar at the top level. There are a couple of options available, starting at about $15 for a glass of bubbly.
8) The Eiffel Tower is a naked Statue of Liberty
So to speak. Gustave Eiffel’s company designed the metal structure that holds the Statue of Liberty together. You can think of the Eiffel Tower as a Statue of Liberty without the skin, though the shapes of the two structures are quite different.
9) It’s much less crowded at night
Visitors to Paris may not be as romantic as we thought. Although Paris is known as the City of Light and its illuminated attractions can easily be seen at night, the Eiffel Tower has much fewer visitors in the evening than during the day. The tower is open year-round until 11:45 pm, with the last admissions at 11 pm, 10:30 pm to visit the top. During the height of summer, the tower stays open for another hour.
10) 19th-century elevators are still in operation
Two of the original elevator cars, and the 1899 hydraulic equipment, are still functioning in the Eiffel Tower elevators that go to the third floor in the east and west pillars. The equipment has been updated, but it is essentially the same technology that was used more than a century ago.