The Eiffel Tower is the most recognizable landmark in Paris, and is known worldwide as a symbol for France. It is named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel. It is a premier tourist destination, with over 5 1/2 million visitors per year. Guest number 200,000,000 is foreseen to visit the tower in the year 2003.
The tower was built from 1887-1889 for the World Exhibition at the Centennial celebration of the French revolution. 300 steel workers joined together 18,038 pieces of steel, using around two and a half million rivets. Considering the general safety standards in place at the time, it is remarkable that only one worker died in the construction of the tower.
Perhaps predictably, the tower met with resistance from the public when it was first built, because it was thought that it would be an eyesore! Today it is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful pieces of architecural art in the world.
Originally, Eiffel only had a permit to leave the tower standing for 20 years, but as it proved valuable for communication purposes, it was allowed to stay after the end of the permit.
The tower is 300 meters tall, or 986 feet, not including the television antenna on top, which adds another 20 meters. Maintenance on the tower includes 50 tons of dark brown paint every 7 years!