US$34 Million in 2007 dollars)
At 1,063 feet, including the antenna, the Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris and one of the most recognized tourist attractions on the globe. As the winning entry in a design competition, construction began in 1887 taking as many as 300 workmen to assemble the 18,038 pieces of a very pure type of structural iron called puddle iron.
Opened in May of 1889 as the grand entrance to the Exposition Universelle, a world’s fair that commemorated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution, the Eiffel Tower has attracted over 200 million people to marvel at its unique engineering design. In fact, in terms of paid-visitors, the Eiffel Tower ranks number one in the world.
When the Eiffel Tower was first constructed, its unique design, referred to as “Victorian Structural Expressionist” by some people at the time, was highly criticized as an eyesore in a city well known for its cultural heritage. The Parisians, however, despite their disapproval of this blot on the landscape, had no choice but to wait out the 20 years when, under the provisions of the permit, the ownership of the structure transferred from its designer and engineer, Gustave Eiffel, to the City of Paris for dismantling. By that time, however, with the new radio technology in vogue, the French government considered the tower a valuable asset for communications purposes and the people had become so enamored with the structure that it received a reprieve. Today, the Eiffel Tower is a cherished icon of the French people.
Painting the Tower
The Eiffel Tower must be painted by hand every 6 or 7 years to protect it from corrosion, a process that takes 60 tons of paint and two years to complete. The painting is usually done by a rather unique cadre of 25 painters who are unafraid of heights and possess an acrobatic agility for scaling the tower. In order to accentuate the impression of height, the tower is painted in three slightly different shades of “Eiffel Tower beige”, a color similar to milk chocolate with the lightest shade at the top. The next painting cycle is scheduled to begin around the end of 2008.
To gain a little perspective on its height, if the Statue of Liberty, including its base, were to be placed on top of the Washington Monument, the Eiffel Tower would still be 200 feet taller.