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Eiffel Tower Anniversary Observed

Mar. 31, 1964 - Seventy-five years ago today, the last bit of iron was put into place and the French Tricolor was raised over what was to become one of the highest and best-known landmarks in the world — the Eiffel Tower (pictured in 1888). Except for a suicide, the 329th in the history of the tower, it was business as usual today on the anniversary of the 1,052-foot structure.

The tower was ridiculed at its beginning and condemned to demolition. But it has become the Paris’s biggest tourist attraction.

In 1885, the French Government decided to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1789 Revolution with a world’s fair that would include the construction of a tower. Gustave Eiffel, a well-known bridge builder and expert in iron construction, won out over other engineers with a plan that was considered to have met the requirement for a “masterpiece of the French metal industry.”

Helped by the precise mathematical calculations of Maurice Koechlin, a Swiss-trained mathematician, and 200 workers, Mr. Eiffel built the tower in 2 years, 2 months, and 2 days.

About 18,000 pieces of iron weighing 7,000 tons are held together by 2.5 million rivets, and in the structure’s 75 years only a few have had to be changed. Every seven years, the tower gets a coat of brown paint.

In addition to affording a view that can extend almost 42 miles on a clear day — it rarely is that clear — the tower also houses the television transmitters for the Paris region and the transmitter for frequency modulation radio broadcasts.


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