The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognized manmade landmarks in the whole world. It is an indispensable part of Paris and is often a symbol for both Paris and France. But its story is unique and strange - it was never meant to be the icon that it is today. Eiffel Tower has an unlikely tale to tell that just makes it all the more special.

Today tourists who visit the Eiffel tower are rewarded with some of the best panoramic views of Paris possible. But while the Eiffel Tower is an unmissable icon of Paris, it is not the only reason why one should visit Paris, Paris has no shortage of other truly amazing attractions.

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The Origins and Purpose Of The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower was constructed between 1887 and 1889 and was the centerpiece of the 1889 World's Fair (Called Exposition Universelle of 1889). The exposition was the fourth of eight expositions held in Paris between 1855 and 1937. It attracted over thirty-two million visitors.

  • Purpose: To Be The Centerpiece of the 1889 World's Fair

The Eiffel Tower was built especially for the Exposition and was only meant to be a temporary structure for the event. At the time of its construction, it was the tallest structure in the world. The competition to bid for building the structure simply called for a tower of three hundred meters with a base of one hundred meters wide.

The Exposition celebrated the centennial of the French Revolution - an event officially boycotted by many of the monarchies of Europe.

  • Construction: It Took 2 Years, 2 Months, and 5 Days to Built The Eiffel Tower

The Eiffel Tower was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel whose company designed and built the tower.

  • Gustave Eiffel & Lady Liberty: Eiffel Had Recently Built The Iron Frame Of The Statue of Liberty

During the first week of the Exposition, nearly 30,000 people climbed the tower's narrow winding stairway to the viewing platform as the elevators were not yet in service. By the end of the 173-day event, almost 2 million people had ascended the tower.

After the end of the Exposition, the tower found a new use as a weather station. In 1909 the 20-year exclusive rights to the tower by the construction company ended and it was decided to preserve the Tower permanently.

Opposition to The Eiffel Tower

Strange as it may seem today, but initially the tower was criticized by some of France's leading artists and intellectuals for its design. No one had ever built a building taller than 200 meters - let alone over 300 meters before and many thought it was impossible.

  • Opposition: Many French Artists Were Opposed To The Construction of the Eiffel Tower

Many were opposed on artistic grounds and even a petition called the "Artists against the Eiffel Tower" was sent to the government. The petition published by Le Temps on February 1887 stated:

"We, writers, painters, sculptors, architects and passionate devotees of the hitherto untouched beauty of Paris, protest with all our strength, with all our indignation in the name of slighted French taste, against the erection … of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower"

Related: 24 Images Of The Eiffel Tower That Show It’s Not Worth A Visit

The American Inspiration For The Eiffel Tower

According to Eiffel, the inspiration for the tower came from the United States. The Latting Observatory was built in New York City in 1853 as part of the Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations. It was an iron-braced wooden tower and was located on the Northside of 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue (just across the street from present-day Bryant Park).

The observatory was conceived by Waring Latting and designed by William Naugle. From its observatory visitors could see into Queens, south to Staten Island, and west to New Jersey.

  • Height: 315 Feet or 96 Meters
  • Tallest: It Was The Tallest Structure In New York City When it Was First Built
  • Fate: It Burned Down In 1856

Related: How Visiting The Eiffel Tower Has Changed In The Last 30 Years (In 13 Pictures)

Eiffel's Tower Today

The tower has three levels for visitors - with restaurants on the first and second levels. The highest level is 276 meters or 906 feet high and is the highest observation deck in the European Union.

  • Nickname: It Is Locally Known as "La Dame De Fer" or "Iron Lady"
  • Designated: It Was Designated Part Of A UNESCO World Heritage Site In 1991
  • Height: 324 Meters or 1,036 Feet (Tallest Structure in Paris)
  • Chrysler Building: Took The Title For Tallest Building From The Eiffel Tower in 1930 after Holding it for 41 Years

Today the Eiffel Tower is open to the public and everyone can explore this powerful icon of France. See updated information on the Eiffel Tower's official website and enjoy the tower's many observatories, shops, and restaurants.

Next: It's a Ten Minute Walk From Pont Des Arts To The Eiffel Tower In Paris: Here's What You Can See On The Way