Secrets of the Eiffel Tower Continued

 

This blog article is a continuation from last weeks blog.  There are several facts about the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, that many people do not know.

The Eiffel tower was slated to be destroyed.

After the World Fair of 1889, it was the intent of the Paris government to disassemble the Eiffel tower for scrap metal.  Because it’s architect and designer, Gustave Eiffel, paid for 80% of the tower’s construction cost he was permitted to have the structure stand for 20 years in an effort to recoup some of the money he spent building the tower.  In one strategic move to save the tower, Eiffel put an antenna on the Tower’s pinnacle and paid for experiments that would test the boundaries of wireless signals. The tower was proven to be invaluable and that it could send and receive wireless messages, which became particularly valuable to the French military in WWI. Today there are over 110 antennas located at the top of the tower broadcasting radio and television signals around the world.

The Eiffel tower was not always a worldwide symbol of romance.

During the construction of the Eiffel Tower Paris, many artists signed a petition against building the tower calling it monstrous and outrageous. There were about 300 prominent artists and intellectuals who signed the petition.  The petition failed to sway the opinion the city leaders and construction of the Tower continued.

Daredevils have died at the tower.

Because of the Tower’s heights and notoriety, many thrill seekers have used the tower to perform stunts and dramatic feats.  Some of the more common stunts used parachutes, bungee cords, and thin wire to walk across. Two of the more notable deaths that occurred at the tower involved French tailor, inventor, and parachuting pioneer Franz Reichelt and pilot Leon Collot.  Reichelt jumped from the first floor of the Tower using a parachute suit he designed that was spring-loaded. Reichelt wanted to design a parachute suit pilots could wear if they needed to exit their plane while in flight.  Reichelt conducted experiments from his 5th-floor apartment using dummies, which was successful.  Unfortunately, Reichelt fell to his death, 187 feet below, when his parachute-suit experiment did not expand sufficiently. On February 28, 1926, Leon Collot, the second notable Tower death, died trying to fly his plane beneath the span of the tower.  Collot made a bet that he could fly his plane under the span of the Eiffel Tower, which he did successfully.  It was not until Collot attempted to elevate his plane that it became caught in Ariel wire.  The plane fell into some trees below and Collot burned to death when the plane caught fire.

The Eiffel tower was used to capture Mata Hari.

The French military used the wireless signals beaming from the Tower’s antennas during World War I to intercept enemy messages. The French learned that the German army was planning an attack at the battle of the Marne.  This intelligence allowed the French military to plan a counterattack tipping the balance of power in during the war.  Three years later, another message would be intercepted between Germany and Spain providing details about a German spy named Mata Hari.  She was eventually arrested and convicted of spying on behalf of Germany.  She was executed by firing squad.

There is a scientific laboratory in the Eiffel Tower.

When Eiffel designed and built the Eiffel Tower, he installed a laboratory that would be used to conduct scientific experiments in the areas of astronomy, meteorology, aerodynamics, and physiology. Eiffel, along with other French scientists, would use this lab to learn more about the physical world.  In 1909, an arrow dynamic wind tunnel was installed by Eiffel at the base of the tower and tens of thousands of experiments were carried out. Among some of the more notable people to use this win tunnel, included the Wright brothers and Porsche automobiles.

 

Secrets of the Eiffel Tower

Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel built one of the most recognizable structures in Paris, France for the 1889 world fair. The structure was originally supposed to be temporary and consisted of 18,000 iron pieces, 1,710 steps, and has an unfurled French tricolor flag flying from us pinnacle.  Many people have experienced the Eiffel Tower from a distance, either through television, movies, or even photographs, but few have actually gotten up close to see the structure for themselves. There 10 things you may not know about the Eiffel tower that could make for good dinner conversation the next time you meet up with friends and family.

The Eiffel Tower used to be yellow.  

The Eiffel tower is also known as “Lady Iron” and has changed her look throughout the decades. When the lady iron was first built in 1889, the structure was a reddish brown color. About 10 years later, the Eiffel Tower was painted again, but this time yellow. In 1968, lady iron adopted the yellow-brown and chestnut brown colors it currently has.  Every seven years the Eiffel tower gets a touch-up consisting of 60 tons of new paint to keep it looking new and fresh. The tower is painted in progressively lighter shades with darker shades at the bottom and lighter shades closer to the pinnacle.

The Eiffel Tower was built to celebrate the one-hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution.

The world fair of 1889 was held in Paris France in order to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the battle of Bastille, which launched the French revolution. Organizers held an open competition inviting architects of multiple disciplines to submit proposals that would be displayed as a spectacular centerpiece. Mr. Eiffel was just one out of 17 architects to submit proposals.

The Eiffel Tower was the worlds tallest structure for 40 years.

Prior to the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the worlds tallest building was the Washington Monument, which stands at 555 feet. The Eiffel Tower surpassed that height and remained the worlds tallest building for decades. It was not until 1930 when the Chrysler building in New York was built at a height of 1046 feet that Lady Iron lost her title.  Eventually the Eiffel tower eclipsed the Chrysler building in height when they added an antenna in 1957.  Despite the Iron Lady’s attempt to regain her title as the worlds tallest structure, the Empire State building in New York City, New York would be the worlds tallest building.

The Eiffel Tower was once the worlds largest billboard.

From 1925 to 1936, the French automobile company Citroen, used 250,000 colored light bulbs attached the three sides of the tower steeple to spell the company‘s name in 100 foot vertical letters. The advertisement was so bright that you could see it from nearly 20 miles away. As a matter fact, Charles Lindbergh use the Tower’s illuminated letters to guide him when he landed in Paris in 1927 after completing a solo transatlantic flight.

Mr. Eiffel played a part in designing the Statue of Liberty.

In 1879, the original designer of the Statue of Liberty’s interior elements suddenly died. French sculptor, Frederic-Auguste Bartholdihired, hired Mr. Eiffel to continue the work. Because Eiffel had already garnered notoriety for building the Iron Lady, he was asked to design the skeletal support system over which the copper skin of the Statue of Liberty would be laid.  In Paris, France, there is a smaller model of the Statue of Liberty located on the island in the River Seine, just beyond the Eiffel Tower.

Check back next week for a continuation of this article with additional secrets of the Eiffel Tower.