the travels & travails of an escaped lab rat

Paris: Eiffel Tower

Undoubtedly one of the most recognizable and iconic structures in the world, the Eiffel Tower was originally built as a temporary edifice.

It began its life as the entrance arch to the Exposition Universelle 1889 (the World’s Fair, which also marked the centennial celebration of the French Revolution), and was granted a permit to stand for 20 years. When the time came for its scheduled demolition in 1909, the tower had proved itself useful for communications purposes and was allowed to remain past the expiry of its permit.

One hundred twenty-one years later, the Eiffel Tower has played host to over 200 million tourists —  making it the most visited paid-attraction in the world.

The Tower has become so synonymous with Paris that one really can’t say they’ve visited the city until they’ve gone to pay obligatory homage at the great Erector Set of the gods.

It’s quite a marvel, and possessed of an almost mathematical elegance in its economy of design. Gustave Eiffel originally planned for the use of steel in its construction, but ended up having to use puddled iron instead. At 324 metres tall, it held the record for tallest structure in the world until 1930 (when it was beaten by the Chrysler Building), and remained the tallest structure in France until 2004 (when the Viaduc de Millau was completed).

That took a lot of Meccano sets.

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Posted in Places by madsci on March 17th, 2010 at 9:20 am.

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