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The Eiffel Tower (French: La Tour Eiffel, nickname La dame de fer, the iron lady) is a puddle iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. Built in 1889, it has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

The tower is the tallest building in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair.

The tower stands 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-storey building. During its construction, the Eiffel Tower surpassed the Washington Monument to assume the title of the tallest man-made structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years, until the Chrysler Building in New York City was built in 1930. However, due to the addition, in 1957, of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower, is now taller than the Chrysler Building. Not including broadcast antennas, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct.

The tower has three levels for visitors. Tickets can be purchased to ascend, by stairs or lift, to the first and second levels. The walk from ground level to the first level is over 300 steps, as is the walk from the first to the second level. The third and highest level is accessible only by elevator. Both the first and second levels feature restaurants. The tower has become the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France, often in the establishing shot of films set in the city.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The size of the collection increased under Napoleon and the museum was renamed the Musee Napoleon. After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

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. 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. Eiffel was assisted in the design by engineers Emile Nouguier and Maurice Koechlin and architect Stephen Sauvestre. The risk of accident was great as, unlike modern skyscrapers, the tower is an open frame without any intermediate floors except the two platforms. However, because Eiffel took safety precautions, including the use of movable stagings, guard-rails and screens, only one man died. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, and opened on 6 May.

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

More than 200,000,000 people have visited the tower since its construction in 1889, including 6,719,200 in 2006. The tower is the most-visited paid monument in the world.

The original elevators to the first and second floors were provided by two companies. Both companies had to overcome many technical obstacles as neither company (or indeed any company) had experience with installing elevators climbing to such heights with large loads. The slanting tracks with changing angles further complicated the problems. The East and West elevators were supplied by the French company Roux Combaluzier Lepape, using hydraulically powered chains and rollers. Contemporary engravings of the elevators cars show that the passengers were seated at this time but it is not clear whether this was conceptual. It would be unnecessary to seat passengers for a journey of a couple of minutes. The North and South elevators were provided by the American company Otis using car designs similar to the original installation but using an improved hydraulic and cable scheme. The French elevators had a very poor performance and were replaced with the current installations in 1897 (West Pillar) and 1899 (East Pillar) by Fives-Lille using an improved hydraulic and rope scheme. Both of the original installations operated broadly on the principle of the Fives-Lille lifts.

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