The Eiffel Tower is an iconic symbol, regularly associated with not only Paris, but the entire country of France. The structure can be found in numerous forms of media representing the country and celebrated its 125th anniversary earlier this year. Let’s take a closer look at this mammoth structure:
The Eiffel Tower was opened to the public on March 31, 1889, taking two years, two months and five days to build by 300 workers. It was erected to serve as the entrance to the 1889 World Fair (or Exposition Universelle, since the French always have to put their own twist on titles). While it is an icon of the country today, its construction was protested by French artists and writers, who called it a “hateful column of bolted sheet metal!”
Writer Guy de Maupassant was one of the most vocal haters of the Eiffel Tower, yet was discovered eating lunch inside the setting on a daily basis. He claimed that it was because it was the only place in Paris that he didn’t have to look at the building. Other residents of the city initially viewed the construction as an eyesore.
Although the tower is named in honour of engineer Gustave Eiffel, he wasn’t initially interested in the project. Designed by his company’s engineers Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, Eiffel only really came on board when the design was tweaked by his head of architecture, Stephen Sauvestre. Then, Eiffel purchased the patent rights for the structure.
A symbol of modern science, for 41 years, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made object (standing at 1,063 feet) in the world, but that reign came to an end in 1930 with the completion of New York’s Chrysler Building. I bet the French regretted giving New York the Statue of Liberty after they were trumped. The tower is comprised of 18,038 pieces linked by 2.5 million rivets.
Today, the Eiffel isn’t even the tallest structure in France anymore. It has been surpassed by the Millau Viaduct, a cable-stayed bridge that connects parts of Millau-Creissels, France over the River Tarn. While it does provide a nice photo-op (if you’re into bridges and such), the Eiffel Tower is still the place tourists flock for their Parisian moment.
The tower was treated with 60 tons of paint to protect from the weather and has been repainted numerous times (about every seven years) since its original covering. It is painted lighter at the bottom of the structure and becomes gradually darker at the top so it looks like one uniform colour, despite atmospheric pressure. On warms days, the Eiffel tower can grow up to six inches, thanks to thermal expansion… does this mean that Mrs. Sip is also thermal expansion!?
The tower’s elevators weren’t running until almost two months after the building opened. Visitors could still enter the structure, but had to climb 1,710 steps to reach the summit. Still, more than 30,000 people were willing to traverse the many flights to get a view of the city. Mrs. Sip and I have talked about doing the stair thing sometime, but I think my laziness will always prevail.
The Eiffel Tower was supposed to be taken apart after 20 years, but it was later used as a radio communications tower, transitioning into telecommunications with the change in technology. The city chose to keep the structure after its permit expired in 1909. A post office, theatre, newspaper, science labs, and even an annual ice rink have also set up shop at the structure.
In the 1920s, con man Victor Lustig sold the Eiffel Tower twice for scrap metal. With forged government documents, Lustig invited six scrap metal dealers to a meeting where they discussed dismantling the run down and expensive-to-upkeep landmark. When the scam worked once without Lustig ending up in jail, he returned to try it again, but this time authorities were summoned. Lustig did get away this time, but eventually found himself in jail, where he died in 1947. His death certificate listed his occupation as ‘apprentice salesman!’
The tower sure is sturdy, surviving wars, fires, and countless visitors. One time when Mrs. Sip and I were visiting the landmark, we even saw some dude relieving himself against the iconic iron! Today, the Eiffel Tower is the most visited pay monument in the world, with over seven millions visitors annually, 75% of which are foreigners.
It may not be the copycat Eiffel Tower located at The Paris Hotel in Las Vegas, but Joe King, an engineering professor from California, constructed a toothpick replica of the famous structure in 1988, using 110,000 sticks. The tower stood 23 feet high. Other imitations include: Tokyo Tower in Japan, Torre del Reformador in Guatemala, Petřín Lookout Tower in the Czech Republic, AWA Tower in Australian, and many more.
France: Between the Sheets
- 1 oz Cognac
- 1 oz Triple Sec
- 1 oz Light Rum
- Splash of Lemon Juice
- Garnish with a Lemon Wedge
Every time Mrs. Sip and I have been at the Eiffel Tower (with the intent of going up), the weather has been inclement. The first time we ever scaled the monument, the weather was near freezing and windy and even snowed a little. Other times, we have passed on going up because we know it isn’t as enjoyable when it’s wet and cold. On one visit, the weather was gorgeous as we were winding our way through the Louvre line-up early in the day. That afternoon was supposed to be Eiffel Tower time, but as we made our way to the attraction, the clouds burst open and we were thwarted once again. C’est la vie is all you can really say!
Sip Advisor Bar Notes (4 Sips out of 5):
Despite three ounces of alcohol, this drink was pretty damn good. I was worried about how harsh it might be, so instead of using plain Light Rum, I subbed in Torched Cherry Rum and the flavour went very well with the Triple Sec. Both tasted very nice with Cognac as part of the mix and while still potent, the drink was delicious.