The icon of Paris, the 325 m high structure that was the world’s tallest building between 1889 and 1931, is one of the most imposing monuments which survive from the international exhibitions of the 19th and 20th centuries. Its platforms provide spectacular prospects over the French capital. Since the early 20th century it has played an important role in telecommunications.
The tower was designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) for the Exposition Universelle of 1889 that commemorated the French Revolution, and was opened in May of that year.
It was one of the last major structures to be constructed of wrought-iron rather than steel. Its 18,038 components were fabricated from puddle wrought-iron and riveted together. The tower was not intended to be a permanent structure, permission for it to occupy its site in the Champ de Mars having been given only until 1909. In the years after the exhibition closed Eiffel sought to find new uses for it. It came to be used for telecommunications and in 1909 a permanent underground radio station was opened nearby.
The tower is nevertheless best-known as Paris’s principal visitor attraction and now attracts nearly seven million visitors a year.