You Would Like Some Eiffel Tower Trivia, Oui?

On March 31, 1889, Gustave Eiffel, an architect and civil engineer, presided over dedication ceremonies for the tower that bears his name. Try your luck with these trivia questions we've put together to mark the anniversary of this historic event.


Why Was the Tower Built? # Brilliantly illuminated, the Eiffel Tower dominates the nighttime skyline of Paris. The tower was designed to be a spectacular architectural centerpiece for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, which was held in Paris from May 6 through October 31, 1889, and coincided with the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the French Revolution. Built over a period of two years, two months, and five days, the tower was a marvel of late-19th-century engineering and construction and was to represent the exposition's theme of "Utopia Achieved." Well in advance of the exposition, the French government held a design competition to select a monument to built on the city's Champ-de-Mars. From the more than 100 designs submitted, Eiffel's design for an open-lattice, wrought-iron tower was selected.

Which Critical Tower Feature Wasn't Ready on Opening Day? # Also designed by Gustave Eiffel, the Garabit Viaduct carries railway traffic across the Truyere River in central France. Not yet completed for the dedication ceremony of Eiffel's imposing tower were its elevators, designed to quickly carry visitors from ground level to the tower's observation level nearly 1,000 feet above the Paris streets. Because the elevators were unavailable, Eiffel had no other option but to climb the tower's 1,710 steps to plant the French flag at the top of the tower. Accompanying Eiffel on this very strenuous exercise were a handful of reporters as well as some members of the Paris City Council. Down below, less hardy members of the city council, some 200 of the project's workers, and other dignitaries conducted another ceremony, one that was marked by a 21-gun salute.


What Saved the Tower from Scheduled Demolition? As originally conceived, the exposition's soaring centerpiece was designed to remain in place for 20 years, after which it was to be torn down. In the years after its opening, antennas for wireless transmissions were placed atop the tower, eventually bringing its overall height to 1,063 feet and in the end providing a strong argument for preserving the tower. To help spare the tower from demolition, Eiffel actively encouraged scientific experiments that capitalized on the towering structure's height.

What U.S. Skyscraper Succeeded the Tower as the World's Tallest? For just over 40 years, the Eiffel Tower held the title of world's tallest structure. However, in 1930, the opening of the 1,050-foot Chrysler Building in midtown Manhattan succeeded the tower as the world's tallest. In the years since, a number of taller structures have been constructed, dwarfing both the Eiffel Tower and Chrysler Building. The current titleholder, Burj Khalifa, towers 2,722 feet above the streets of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

How Much Does It Cost to Paint the Tower? Every seven years, a painting crew refreshes the appearance of the Eiffel Tower with a fresh coat of paint that covers "every crevice, nut, bolt, and beam," according to In 2009, a 25-man painting crew -- almost all of them foreigners -- slapped on a new coat of "Eiffel Tower brown," the patented paint that for years has accounted for the tower's signature look. The 2009 paint job had a price tag of about 4 million euros ($5.29 million at 2009 exchange rates).

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