A Famous French Feature: The Eiffel Tower

Almost 150 years ago a group of 250 men built the 1,000-foot-tall Eiffel Tower in only 26 months. Gustave Eiffel, French engineer, submitted his plans for what would be the tallest structure in the world at that time, along with 100 other architects in a contest. In 1886 his company was selected to build his structure in time for the 1889 Paris Exposition. Eiffel was not only known for building sturdy railroad bridges but also had a reputation for solving technically challenging problems.

The particular problem before him was how was he going to build such a large structure in so little time? But he and a team of 250 workers did the impossible and finished the tower in only 26 months. The tower had more than 18,000 pieces including the 16 piers that made up the legs of the tower. It even included early hydraulic jacks to make sure the parts lined up correctly.

When the tower began construction, not everyone was happy. In fact, writers and artists singed a letter against the idea of the tower saying it would ruin the skyline and that it would be offensive to the city's great buildings. Being so tall, some feared it would collapse and injure someone or destroy property.

Despite these controversies, construction continued and on March 31, 1889 the Eiffel Tower was opened. Since then, hundreds of millions of people have visited the tower. About 3 million people visit every year. Although the Eiffel tower is no longer the tallest structure in the world, it still stands as one of the most well known and beautiful constructed buildings of its time.

[Source: 100 Great Wonders of the World]

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