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Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Eiffel tower, Paris

Ok, the Eiffel Tower is a cliche, but seeing it on TV doesn't count.
The Eiffel Tower is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars beside the River Seine in Paris, France. The tower has become a global icon of France.
The Parisian landmark is the tallest structure in Paris and one of the most recognized structures in the world. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, 6,719,200 people visited the tower in 2006 and more than 200,000,000 since its construction. This makes the tower the most visited paid monument in the world per year. Including the 24 m (79 ft) antenna, the structure is 324 m (1,063 ft) high (since 2000), which is equivalent to about 81 levels in a conventional building.
The structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tons. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm (7 in), due to thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun. The tower also sways 6-7 cm (2-3 in) in the wind.
The first and second levels are accessible by stairs and lifts. A ticket booth at the south tower base sells tickets to use the stairs which begin at that location. On the first platform, the stairs continue up from the east tower. The third level summit is only accessible by lift. Once you are on the first or second platform, the stairs are open for anyone to ascend or descend regardless if you have purchased a lift ticket or stair ticket. The actual count of stairs includes 9 steps to the ticket booth at the base, 328 steps to the first level, 340 steps to the second level, and 18 steps to the lift platform on the second level. When exiting the lift at the third level, 15 more steps exist to ascend to the upper observation platform. The actual step count is printed periodically on the side of the stairs to give an indication of progress. The structure was built between 1887 and 1889 as the entrance arch for the Exposition Universelle, a World's Fair marking the centennial celebration of the French Revolution. Eiffel originally planned to build it in Canada, for the Universal Exposition of 1888, but they rejected it. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March1889, and opened on 6 May. Three hundred workers joined together 18,038 pieces of puddled iron (a very pure form of structural iron), using two and a half million rivets, in a structural design by Maurice Koechlin. The risk of accident was great, for unlike modern skyscrapers the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. Yet because Eiffel took safety precautions including use of movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died.
The tower was met with resistance from the public when it was built, with many calling it an eyesore. (Novelist Guy de Maupassant — who claimed to hate the tower — supposedly ate lunch at the Tower's restaurant every day. When asked why, he answered that it was the one place in Paris where you couldn't see the Tower.) Today, it is widely considered to be a striking piece of structural art.
One of the great Hollywood movie clichés is that the view from a Parisian window always includes the tower. In reality, since zoning restrictions limit the height of most buildings in Paris to a few storeys, only the very few taller buildings have a clear view of the tower....(more on www.wikipedia.org)


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