10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
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10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower

10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
L.A. Times staff writer Christopher Reynolds tells you 10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower.

It suffers from shrinkage.

Not counting its antenna, the iron tower is about 984 feet tall. But on cold days it’s roughly 6 inches shorter. (Lionel Bonaventure / AFP/Getty Images)
10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
The paint is wet.

Or at least some of it is.

Twenty-five workers began brushwork in March on a top-to-bottom repainting job that’s expected to take 18 months. When done, they will have applied 60 tons of paint in three shades of brown (darkest at the bottom, lightest at the top).

The tower needs repainting every seven years, and it hasn’t always been brown.

For a brief spell in 1899, the tower was painted ochre yellow. And from 1954 to 1961, it was brownish red, a bit like the Golden Gate Bridge. (Francois Mori / Associated Press)
10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
It wasn’t Eiffel’s only big-ticket gig.

By the time engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel began building the tower for the Exposition Universelle of 1889, he had already put up more than 50 bridges in Europe.

He was also a key part of the French effort to build a canal in Panama — an effort that fell through. (Americans redesigned the project and finished the job about 35 years later.)

The tower, meanwhile, took about two years to build, with completion March 31, 1889, several weeks ahead of the exposition’s opening day. (Associated Press)
10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
It would make a fine billboard. In fact, it already has.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, three of its sides held vast advertisements for Citroen cars. While occupying Paris during World War II, German troops hung a sign from the tower trumpeting their victory. In 1979, a Greenpeace protester unfurled a sign that said “Save the Seals.”

A company called Apoteo Surprise will flash a personal message under the Eiffel Tower — for a price. (Apoteo Surprise)
10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
It outdraws New York‘s Empire State Building (pictured), big time.

From 2003 to 2008, the Parisian tower’s annual visitor count grew from 5.9 million to 6.9 million. (The Empire State Building’s operators report “more than 3.5 million” visitors a year.)

The Paris tower is open every day and includes two restaurants. Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 12:45 a.m. (Michel Porro / Getty Images)
10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
It’s more expensive than the one in Las Vegas.

Through March 26, 2010, the cost of an elevator trip to the top of the real Eiffel Tower is 13 euros for an adult. (That’s about $17.25, by current foreign exchange rates.)

Cost of the Eiffel Tower Experience at Paris Las Vegas in Las Vegas: $10 for an adult.

And no, you can’t climb to the top of the tower in Paris. (It’s 1,665 steps, or maybe 1,671, depending on who’s counting.) Also, wheelchair users aren’t allowed at the top. (Martin Bureau / AFP/Getty Images)
10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
Even before it was done, some French big shots decided it was barbarous, stupefying and odious.

In 1887, as construction began, composer Charles Gounod, writer Guy de Maupassant, painter William Bouguereau, architect Charles Garnier and scores of other sensitive French creative types signed a petition in protest, labeling the tower “useless and monstrous ... a gigantic black factory chimney, its barbarous mass overwhelming and humiliating all our monuments and belittling our works of architecture, which will just disappear before this stupefying folly ... this odious column of bolted metal.”

Picture dated March 31, 1889, shows the Eiffel Tower in Paris just after it was built. (STF / AFP/Getty Images)
10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
Way back when, Chrysler stole its thunder.

But who’s laughing now?

The tower was the tallest building in the world until the Chrysler Building went up in New York in 1930.

But look at the bottom lines. The tower has been a reliable money-maker. Despite a scandal over 15 workers embezzling ticket revenue, the Paris city agency running the tower reported 2007 operating income of 59.8 million euros and operating profit of 1.5 million euros.

Chrysler? Bankrupt.

One of the views from the top of the Eiffel Tower. (Jacques Demarthon / AFP/Getty Images)
10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
It’s in a relationship.

In 2008, a 36-year-old San Francisco woman, formerly a member of the U.S. Army and a champion archer, “married” the tower and changed her name to Erika La Tour Eiffel. (REMY DE LA MAUVINIERE, Associated Press)
10 things you didn’t know about the Eiffel Tower
It’s in bookstores now.

There’s a new book out, “Eiffel’s Tower: And the World’s Fair Where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count.” The author is Jill Jonnes, and some of the nine previous nuggets come from her work. Many others come from the tower’s own website at www.tour-eiffel.fr/teiffel/uk.


FOR THE RECORD:
Eiffel Tower trivia: An earlier version of this caption erroneously listed www.eiffel-tower.us as the tower’s website. — (Jerry Shonkwiler)
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