EIF­FEL LIGHTS

Reader's Digest Asia Pacific - - Contents - SAM BEN­SON SMITH

Here’s ev­ery­thing you didn’t know about the Eif­fel Tower.

THE PARIS SKY­LINE is fa­mous for its, well, lack of sky­line. Up un­til 2010, the City of Lights had a ban on how tall a new build­ing could be, lim­it­ing most new struc­tures to be­low 37 me­tres, or about 11 storeys. The rules have re­cently been re­laxed, but the up­ward progress has been far from Dubai-like.

As a re­sult, Parisians and tourists alike get the chance to en­joy an un­ob­structed, al­most-ar­chaic view of the city, with the Eif­fel Tower stand­ing as the dom­i­nant point, pierc­ing the sky. Gleam­ing dur­ing the day, erupt­ing into light in the evening.

Did you know th­ese mind-blow­ing facts about the Eif­fel Tower? The elec­tric­ity bill is any­thing but

light. The mon­u­ment cer­tainly keeps the me­ter whirring; each year it costs ap­prox­i­mately US$1.12 mil­lion. Each day, that’s a bill of $3074. All told, the tower has a to­tal of 20,000 light bulbs lin­ing the frame, and it takes about 22 megawatts of elec­tric­ity per day to run. Gus­tave Eif­fel DID NOT de­sign it.

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. Luck­ily, the (World’s) Fair was in town. It just so hap­pened that Paris was look­ing for a mon­u­men­tal, 300-me­tre-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 from among more than 100 com­pet­ing sub­mis­sions and con­struc­tion be­gan on Jan­uary 28, 1887. Paris didn’t love the Tower at first.

Not ev­ery­one, at least. When Eif­fel’s plans went pub­lic, 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, writer Guy de Mau­pas­sant made a point to eat lunch ev­ery day at the café 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 300 me­tres high upon com­ple­tion on March 15, 1889, the Eif­fel Tower be­came the world’s tallest struc­ture. It kept that hon­our for 41 years un­til 1930, when it was topped by New York’s 320-me­tre Chrysler Build­ing. In 1957 an an­tenna added to the Eif­fel Tower took it to 324 me­tres. It lit­er­ally grows in the sun­light.

Due to ther­mal ex­pan­sion, the Eif­fel Tower can grow up to 15 cen­time­tres taller on warm days, and lean sev­eral cen­time­tres away from the sun.

It used to be yel­low. The Eif­fel Tower wasn’t born with that per­fect bronzed tan; it has been re­painted 18 times, roughly once ev­ery seven years (other colours the Tower has worn in­clude red-brown, yel­low-ochre, and ch­est­nut brown). About 60 tonnes of paint is needed to cover its sur­face.

Now a Paris icon, the Eif­fel Tower was orig­i­nally meant to be a tem­po­rary struc­ture

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