The Eiffel Tower, located on the Champ de Mars, was constructed between 1887 and 1889. It was designed by Gustave Eiffel to act as the entrance to the International Exhibition of Paris of 1889 which commemorated the centenary of the French Revolution. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and opened on 6 May by The Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII of England. Paris is packed with historic landmarks with the Eiffel Tower being the most immediately recognisable.
At first when it was built, the tower met with much resistance from the public, and was considered by many to be nothing but an eyesore. Today it is one of the worlds most immediately recognizable structures and the most popular tourist attraction in France.
The original contest rules for the design of the tower was that it should be capable of being easily dismantled. It was intended for the tower to stand for 20 years after which ownership of it would revert to the City of Paris. The intension then was to have it dismantled, but the tower, due to its height, proved to be invaluable for radio communication purposes, so it was allowed to remain.
Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of a very pure form of structural iron, known as puddled iron, using two and a half million rivets. The metal structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tonnes, with an overall total weight of 10,100 tonnes. The number of steps to the top has varied due to various renovations made over the life of the tower. At the time of the original construction in 1889, there were 1710 steps to the summit platform that stands at 300.65 metres. After renovations in the early 1980s, the number of steps increased to 1920. Today there are 1665 steps, although it is not normally possible for members of the public to reach the summit via the stairs. Access beyond the second platform is through the use of lifts.
Located underground, is the massive hydraulic elevator machinery originally designed by Gustave Eiffel. It has since been restored and computerized and is still in use today, unfortunately, the machinery is closed to the public. On the ground level there is a snack bar, souvenir shops, and an information kiosk. On the first floor there is a large area with displays about the towers history, and large circular gallery with a guide to the sites and monuments of Paris. On the second floor you can see magnificent 360 degree views of the city. There are also three souvenir shops and a snack bar. There is also a private lift in the south pillar that will take you up to the rather exclusive Jules Verne restaurant. Also on this floor, lifts take visitors to the top level. Once you've reached the upper platforms of the Tower, you can walk around and admire the view, with the city of Paris at your feet. You'll find both an outer, and sometimes windy, walkway, and an inner sheltered area as well. Around this area are Strategically placed photographs that point out the landmarks far below.
The tower stands 300 metres high, which is roughly equal to about 75 stories. The antenna at the top of the tower increases the overall height to 320.75 metres. which is about 81 stories. Once the tower was completed in 1889, it became the tallest structure in the world replacing the Washington Monument. It retained the title until 1930 when the Chrysler Building, standing at 319 metres was constructed in New York City, although the tower was still just taller if the respective spires of the two structures were excluded. The tower is now the second highest structure in France, after the 350 metre Allouis longwave transmitter built in 1939. The Eiffel tower is still the highest structure in Paris, with the second highest being the Montparnasse Tower, which stands at 210 metres.