The Quick 10: 10 Eiffel Tower Essentials

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The famous Eiffel Tower was inaugurated 120 years ago this month. Even if you've never been there, you've no doubt seen the thing a million times "“ it's practically synonymous with Paris and France (to the chagrin of some, I'm sure). But what do you really know about it? Here are 10 bits of trivia to amaze your family and impress your friends. Or something like that. They probably aren't "essentials," exactly, but I like alliteration maybe more than I should.

LIGHTNINg1. When the lofty landmark was inaugurated in 1889, it was the tallest structure in the world. This only lasted until 1930, when the Chrysler Building shot past it by more than 60 feet. It's currently taller than the Chrysler Building, though, if you count the 79-foot antenna added to the top. This still makes it only the fifth-tallest building in France.
2. La Tour Eiffel looks like it's one uniform color, but that's only perspective. Since it's so tall, it takes three different shades of whatever the color is (right now it's a brownish-grey) to make it appear all one shade. The darkest shade is used on the bottom and the lightest on the top. It's recoated with 60-70 tons of paint every seven years to prevent it from rusting.
3. World-famous chef Alain Ducasse runs Jules Verne, the gourmet restaurant on the second level.
4. In 1912, an inventor testing out his coat-parachute died when he jumped from the first deck and his invention failed him. Whoops.

5. The French sabotaged the Eiffel Tower before they ceded it to the Nazis and Hitler during WWII: they disabled the elevators, making sure that Hitler would have to climb to the top if he wanted a fantastic view of Paris (and he did: he agreed that Paris was the most beautiful of all of the European cities). The elevators were repaired in 1944 and all Allied soldiers were given free trips to the top.

6. You'll find little Eiffel Towers all over the world, sometimes in the most baffling places.

You know about the ones in Las Vegas and Disney World, I'm sure, but replicas are also in Hangzhou, China; Shenzhen, China; Slobozia, Romania; Copenhagen, Denmark; Messinia, Greece; Varna, Bulgaria; and Aktau, Kazakhstan. These in addition to mini-Eiffels in the hundreds of towns in the U.S. named "Paris," of course.

7. Gustave Eiffel had 72 names engraved on the tower to represent some of the great French scientists, engineers and mathematicians of the day. You can find the whole list here.

citroen8. Talk about an eyesore "“ from 1925-1934, Citroën used three of the four sides of the landmark as an advertising space. At tht time, it was the world's largest advertising ever.
9. Despite its great height, only one person died during the construction of the tower.
10. Thomas Edison visited the Eiffel Tower and was most impressed with it. He signed the guestbook, "To M Eiffel the Engineer the brave builder of so gigantic and original specimen of modern Engineering from one who has the greatest respect and admiration for all Engineers including the Great Engineer the Bon Dieu, Thomas Edison"

March 5, 2009 - 10:27am
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