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1. Making drafts
A. During its construction, which was completed in 1889, the Eiffel Tower became the tallest manmade structure, surpassing the height of the Washington Monument. In 1930, the Chrysler Building was built in New York City, becoming the tallest structure in the world at the time. The Eiffel Tower had held the title for 41 years! Later in 1957, an antenna was attached which, depending on how you determine the height of a structure, made the Eiffel Tower taller than the Chrysler Building.
B. Gustave Eiffel, the famous architect for whom the structure was named, did not actually design the Eiffel Tower. The initial design was sketched by Maurice Koechlin in May of 1884, while he was working at home. Koechlin was a senior engineer working for Eiffel’s architecture firm at the time. Koechlin was working with another architect in the firm, Emile Nouguier, to design a monument for the 1889 Exposition Universelle. The exposition was planned as a World’s Fair to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the French Revolution.
C. In 1885 Eiffel presented the design to the Société des Ingiénieurs Civils as a symbol of the dawning Industrial Age. Two more years passed, and there were changes in government. Eiffel continued to lobby for the project and it was brought to review by a commission in 1886. The commission examined Eiffel’s proposal, along with competing proposals for the monument. Eiffel’s proposal was chosen because it was the most practical and most well planned. The other proposals seemed impossible or were not completely thought through.
D. During the course of the planning, Eiffel’s firm produced 1,700 general drawings, and 3,629 detailed drawings. The drawings captured the 18,038 pieces that make up the tower. Bear in mind all of this was being done by hand, before the 1900s. The construction began in January of 1887 after a location had been determined. The massive concrete and limestone foundations of the Eiffel Tower were the first things to be put into place. The tower would be assembled in a modular fashion.
E. While it is considered by many to be a work of art today, at the time, many artists and writers protested against the building of the tower based on the drawings that were exhibited. Eiffel responded by defending the monumental nature of the work, comparing it to the Pyramids of Egypt. It was an apt description. At the time, the Pyramids were still some of the largest man-made structures on Earth. Gustave Eiffel was not too concerned about the criticism, as the project had already been approved.
F. In 1925, after World War I, the Eiffel Tower was not in the best condition. One conman, named Victor Lustig held a secret meeting of scrap dealers and, using forged government stationary, offered to sell the Eiffel Tower for scrap! The scrap dealer gave him a bribe along with the money for the tower. Lustig and his accomplice fled to Vienna with a suitcase full of money. A month later, Lustig couldn’t help himself, and he returned to Paris to try the scheme again. This time, the person he tried to scam went to the police.
G. Elevators or lifts were installed in the tower shortly after its debut. This is a good thing! Walking to the top took early visitors hours. The lifts have been modified, upgraded and replaced many times over the years. Visitors to the Eiffel Tower include daredevils who have staged stunts, such as bungee jumping from the tower. The Eiffel Tower has become a must-see destination in Paris and, at the last count, more than 200,000,000 people had visited the tower!