Detailed History of Eiffel Tower | Design Proposal, Construction, Controversy & More

The most-visited paid monument in the world, the Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic and instantly recognizable buildings across the globe. The wrought-iron lattice tower is 324 meters tall, making it the tallest structure in all of Paris. Constructed between 1887 and 1889 for the World Fair, the Eiffel Tower has become synonymous with the city of Paris and no trip to the City of Lights is complete without stopping by the Eiffel Tower.

The rich architecture and awe-inspiring design of the tower are reasons enough to visit the renowned landmark, but the Eiffel Tower is more than just a steel structure. Over the years, the Eiffel Tower has come to represent the spirit of Paris; vibrant, beautiful, and full of verve. Read on to find out more about the history of this beautiful metallic structure.

Brief History of the Eiffel Tower | Timeline

1884: The idea of a tower constructed of metal pylons and a square base was formulated.

1885: Presented to the Société des Ingénieurs Civils by Gustav Eiffel for approval.

1886: Approved by the committee for Exposition Universelle that was to be held in 1889 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. 

1886: Artists protest that a metallic tower will be an ugly monument that will ruin the aesthetics of Paris. However, their protest lacked fuel.

1887: In late January, construction began.

1888: Completion of the first level.

1889: Construction completed on 15th March.

History of the Eiffel Tower Explained

Eiffel Tower History

Creation Of the Eiffel Tower Design


It was initially designed by Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier who were engineers at Gustav Eiffel’s engineering firm. Eiffel was not initially impressed but when the chief architect Stephen Sauvestre added ornamental embellishments, he approved the final design. The design was to create a 300 m tall tower made entirely of an iron lattice with a square base. It was an ambitious project since nothing that tall had ever been constructed till then. 

Eiffel Tower History

Proposal Submitted


The proposal was submitted to the committee in charge of the Exposition Universelle which wanted to create a French architectural masterpiece that would commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution. They unanimously selected this design amongst 100 other designs. The tower was to be dismantled after 20 years. 

Despite their selection, a few artists did not accept the idea that a metal tower amid other architectural marvels would be aesthetic or even stable. A 300-meter tower was unheard-of. There was minor opposition against it but that did not stop its construction. 

Eiffel Tower History

Construction of the Tower


Construction began on 28 January. The concrete base was first created. The metal latticework was completed and joined together using rivets. Each part was created with a lot of precision and detail. This was then brought to and assembled on-site. Each of the 4 base structures was to be constructed on concrete slabs. The foundation was laid in the next few months and the first level took a year to complete. The arches and the top of the tower were completed by early 1889 when it was inaugurated.

Eiffel Tower History

Tower Completed


The Tower was completed by March 1889. It was the tallest structure in the modern world at 300 meters. It was structurally sound and aesthetically built and this silenced its critics and some of them even became its ardent admirers! 

The top of the tower could be reached by stairs. In the first couple of months of its completion, the tower witnessed around 30,000 visitors. It became an instant success. It was a highlight during the Exposition Universelle of 1889 and was marveled by statesmen and dignitaries of many countries. 

The Eiffel Tower History

Tower Takes On New Purposes


The Tower’s license was extended since it had proved to be an invaluable location to conduct scientific research and experiments. Gustav was aware that he needed to make the tower not just beautiful but also relevant. He encouraged scientists to use it as a location for conducting meteorological, aerodynamic, and other scientific experiments. 

The tower was used for wireless telegraphy and telegrams of utmost importance were received because of it. It helped change the fate of the world wars and soon became a fixture in the Parisian landscape. Even today, it is used to install satellite dishes and television antennas. 

History of the Eiffel Tower Lights

Before Electricity

In 1889, when the Tower was inaugurated, it was installed with ten thousand gaslights to illuminate the tower from the ground. A beacon was installed at the top.

Post Electricity

In the 1990s, the gaslights were replaced with electric bulbs. During the 1937 World’s Fair, the tower’s structure was lit under the first floor and between the four pillars. Thirty spotlights were added to light up the Tower from the exterior. In 1958, they were replaced by 1,290 small lights all around the Tower.

Later Renovations

In 1985, the lighting system was renovated, installing 336 sodium-vapor lights inside the structure. On 1 January 2000, 20,000 sparkling lights were placed on the Tower’s structure. The beacon on the summit was replaced by the four spotlights.

History of Eiffel Tower Restaurants

  • 1889: At the time of the tower's inauguration, the Eiffel Tower featured four majestic wooden pavilions on the first floor. Each of these restaurants — Flamad, Russian Restaurant, and Brébant — could seat 500 people.
  • 1937: They were demolished for the International Exhibition of 1937. The first floor which had just been renovated got two new restaurants.
  • 1980s: The restaurants were once again replaced by La Belle France and Le Parisien.
  • 1993: The Jules Verne restaurant became a part of the Eiffel Tower.
  • 1996: Altitude 95, located 95 meters above sea level, became the newest highlight of the tower.
  • 2000s: The restaurant on the first floor was named 58 Tour Eiffel.
  • 2022: Madame Brasserie replaced 58 Tour Eiffel.

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Eiffel Tower History

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Frequently Asked Questions About The Eiffel Tower History

Q. How old is the Eiffel Tower?

A. The tower is now approximately 137 years old and going strong. It was built in 1889.

Q. Where is the Eiffel Tower located?

A. The Eiffel Tower is located in Paris, Champs de Mars.

Q. What is the Eiffel Tower famous for?

A. The Eiffel Tower is one of the tallest architectural wonders that has withstood natural and man-made disasters for more than 100 years.

Q. Who designed the Eiffel Tower?

A. The Eiffel Tower was designed by senior engineers Maurice Koechlin, Emile Nouguier, and chief architect Stephen Sauvestre who worked in Gustav Eiffel’s construction firm.

Q. What is the architectural style of the Eiffel Tower?

A. Aesthetic architectural style that is contemporary and scientific for its era (and even now).

Q. How much does it cost to visit the Eiffel Tower?

A. Eiffel Tower ticket prices start at €45. You can purchase Eiffel Tower tickets here.

Q. Are there guided tours explaining the Eiffel Tower’s history?

A. Yes, guided tours of the Eiffel Tower are available.

Q. What is the most interesting fact about the Eiffel Tower’s history?

A. There are many interesting facts about the Eiffel Tower, such as the tower created entirely of metal latticework is made of 12,000 metal pieces that have been put together by 250,000 rivets.

Q. Is it worth visiting the Eiffel Tower?

A. Definitely! Being one of the most iconic landmarks that is synonymous with France, the Eiffel Tower is a must-visit if you are in Paris.

Q. How many steps to the top of the Eiffel Tower?

A. In total, there are around 1665 steps till the second floor of the Eiffel Tower

Q. How long does it take to climb the Eiffel Tower?

A.  It would take approximately around 2 hours to climb the Eiffel Tower.

Q. Are there lifts to take you to the top of the Tower?

A. Yes, there are lifts that take you to the top of the Eiffel Tower.