19 Mind-Blowing Eiffel Tower Facts You’ve Never Heard Before
The 300 artists who protested it, the woman who married it, the man who REALLY designed it, and more.
Gustave Eiffel did not design the Eiffel Tower
But one of his employees—engineer Maurice Koechlin—did. In fact, Eiffel rejected Koechlin’s original sketches, calling them too minimalist and requesting a little more oomph. After approving Koechlin’s final design in 1884, Eiffel started shopping his company’s masterpiece around.
Spain didn’t want it
Eiffel originally pitched his tower to the city of Barcelona, Spain. They rejected it, worried it would be an unwieldy eyesore. Beyond Eiffel Tower facts, these are iconic American landmarks that were almost never built.
Luckily, the (World’s) fair was in town
It just so happened that Paris was looking for a monumental, 300-meter-tall archway to serve as the entrance to their 1889 World’s Fair grounds, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. Eiffel and Co.’s design was picked among more than 100 competing submissions and construction began on January 28, 1887.
It helped that Eiffel had a hand in the Statue of Liberty
Courtesy Library of Congress
In 1879, the man tapped to design the interior of Liberty Enlightening The World (as she is formally named) passed away. Eiffel was hired to replace him, designing a flexible metal skeleton for the Statue of Liberty that keeps her standing to this day. In a way, that makes Lady Liberty and the Eiffel Tower half-sisters. If you’d rather hear American trivia than Eiffel Tower facts, check out the United States trivia you never learned in school.
Paris didn’t love the Tower at first
Not everyone, at least. As soon as Eiffel’s plans went public, a grumble of 300 Paris luminaries signed a petition protesting the monolith’s construction, calling it “useless and monstrous,” a “stupefying folly,” and an “odious column of bolted metal.” Even after the monument was completed two years later, writer Guy de Maupassant made a point to eat lunch every day at the cafe directly below it—the only spot in Paris where he could not see the Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower instantly became the world’s tallest building
Standing 984 feet high upon completion on March 15, 1889, the Eiffel Tower became the world’s tallest structure. It kept that honor for 41 years until the Chrysler Building topped it out in 1930, standing at 1,046 feet.
But the Eiffel Tower got the last laugh
In 1957, a 67-foot antenna was added, making the Eiffel Tower six feet taller than its old nemesis. (Of course, by then, the Empire State Building skunked them both).
It literally grows in the sunlight
Thanks to thermal expansion, the Eiffel Tower can grow up to six inches taller on warm days, and lean several inches away from the sun.
It used to be yellow
Courtesy Library of Congress
The Eiffel Tower wasn’t born with that perfect bronzed tan; it has been repainted 18 times, roughly once every seven years (other colors the Tower has worn include red-brown, yellow-ochre, and chestnut brown). How much paint is that? About sixty tons to cover the Tower’s surface, plus 50 kilometers of cords and five acres of netting. But that’s not the only maintenance cost—this is how much it costs to light up the Eiffel Tower every day.
But it will never be green
All that paint isn’t just for show—regularly applying multiple coats of paint protects the Tower’s metal from oxidizing (aka turning green, like its sister Lady Liberty). According to Eiffel himself, “the more meticulous the paint job, the longer the Tower shall endure.”