Le sentiment: LIKE EI FELL IN LOUVRE WITH THE EIFFEL TOWER
Righto. The Eiffel. The infamous symbol of France. The Iron Lady. The Metal Asparagus. To some, the Eyesore Tower. Fun facts come at us.
So the erection (teehee – back to form two puberty talk present Pop) of the tower hustled up space on the Parisian skyline back in 1889 in prep for the World’s Fair. As with almost everything in Paris, its design was a competition; a fair few Frenchmen (and other-ly ethnicity-ed lads) sent in plans, one of which was a giant guillotine to mark the 100 year anniversary of the French Revolution. Suffice to say, his didn’t make the chop). The winning work was named after a French fella titled Gustav Eiffel, the architect supposedly behind its fanfare; in actuality, Adele (I.e., rumour has it) it was actually the prototype of one Maurice Koechlin – an apprentice like lad who showed Eiffel his blueprints and got credit duly taken away.
It was only meant to tower over Paris for 20 years before being made flaccid (I.e., de-erected) and relocated to Barcelona; however, lack of funds what with the pimply (I.e., breaking out) of WWI, old mate Gustav’s making of it as an actually functioning facility – he hustled in a meteorology lab on the third floor, and a radio transmitter in 1910 for wireless telegraphic abilities – as well as change of heart of the Parisian public rendered it rooted.
Because you see, at first the prodigious preponderence of the French folk hated the Eiffel. Depised it. Considered it a carbuncle on the skyline. They cried out calling it “monstrous” with its metal makeup looming over the city like a “gigantic black smokestack”. In fact, one dude Guy de Maupassant had lunch at the third floor restaurant every single day; when asked just why he fancied the dining place, he replied, “It’s the only place in Paris you can go where you can’t actually see it”.
But, making like chest hair or weeds in a garden, the tower grew on the people to become the symbol of France.
A quick inclusion of the more mundane numbers: it took two years, two months and five days to build. It stands up at 324m tall, weighs in at 10,100 tonnes and has 1710 steps. It has more than five billion lights that light it up and set it sparkling every evening (rack that for an electricity bill mate) (and actually, back in the day, it was illegal to take photos of the tower at night time; the system that lit up the structure was owned by a private company, and thus a long-time-held law stated that taking a photo when all illuminated was illegal) and cost just under eight million francs to build. Which is actually pretty irrelevant a fact as francs are no longer in circulation, and their value today is not at all something you’d know as its no longer of currency, quite frankly. (Yeah I did).
Old Eiffel remained The tallest building in the world for 41 years until the boner – sorry, building – of the New York Chrysler Building in 1930.
More than 7million people hustle to see the tower every year, but this statistic only takes into account (so fitting a pun) those actually taking to the tip top – those only frolicking about the bottom or elevating to floor number three aren’t counted in. It is the most paid for monument in the world with the 250 millionth visitor being uplifted in 2010.
And speaking of being uplifted and the tower’s elevation, the metal esculating vertical transporters inside are constantly up and down. Combined, they travel a distance of 103,000km per year which is two and a half times the circumference of the globe.
It gets some swag on, what with swaying a good six to seven centimetres in strong winds. And it stands tall in summer, growing up to 15.2cm; the heat does something to the steel and it raises the stakes. (Heat expands and all that lark).
Old Eiffel gets a spruce up every seven years with a revamp, requiring 60 tonnes of rust-killing paint. This is every crevice, nut, bolt and beam all by hand; it has gone through a change of hues too, with being yellow-brown and chestnut brown before its current – extremely on paint named – “Eiffel Tower brown”.
Now, some people and their monumental (oh yeah I did) experiences with the La Dame de Fer.
– In the mid 1900s a dude called Ivan Chtcheglove had a blast (well, he was infused about one) when he attempted to blow up the tower; its (well, “her” in the way of the French) lights shone through his bedroom windows as he settled to slumber, keeping him up and Adam. He swiped some dynamite from a nearby construction site but twas caught, arrested and then sent to a mental hospital by his wife (who still slept soundly). (To clarify: cops caught and arrested him, his wife took it to a new level of commitment).
– Innovative Franz Reichelt – an inventor – died in 1912 at the foot of the tower; he was testing a parachute suit that – alas – proved to be a basket case. Reichelt knew which way the wind was blowing – he chucked out a page of paper to test direction – then he placed a foot on the guard rail and hesitated for a good 40 seconds. But he made the leap – witnesses assert he was all tortilla chips plus one (I.e., CCC – cool, calm and collected) as he stepped out, before the parachute immediately folded around him and he plummeted to his death. His right leg and arm were crushed, skull and spine broken and blood coursed out from his mouth, nose and ears. Photographers rushed in to get their graphics (sorry, sorry, sorry).
– In WWII when Paris fell to German occupation, French resistance fighters cut the elevator cables so if old(not)mate Hitler wanted to fly a swastika flag from the tip, he would have to climb the 1710 stairs to the summit platform. And Adolf allegedly did just that, stepping out in more ways than one.
– In 1964, a heartbroken lass of only 17 years attempted suicide by taking it to another level on the first floor. The girl – christened Christine – jumped but her fall was thwarted by a parked car underneath. Urban legend says Chrissy went on to find love and marry the automobile’s owner a few years later. That girl had drive.
– In 2007 an “objectophile” by the name of Erika LaBrie married the Eiffel in a commitment ceremony, taking the last name of “Eiffel”. I hear the reception was superb (transmitter at the top for those of you with your wires crossed).
But honestly, what with the tower always in pics and pop culture and all that jazz, I didn’t think it would affect me. Immune to its sortilege, so to speak. But on my first sighting I truly had a tingle. Standing below it I was in awe.
Fell in Louvre with the Eiffel? We definitely had a monument. (Yes, that word error was intentional as to incorporate a pun). My personal nickname for Le Eiffel is “Houdini”. Because it’s magic mate.