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|The Eiffel Tower is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars beside the River Seine in Paris, France. It is the tallest structure in Paris and possibly the most recognized monument in the world. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, it is the most visited monument in the world; 6,428,441 people visited the tower in 2005 and more than 200,000,000 since its construction. Including the 24 m (78.7 ft) antenna, the structure is 324 m (1063 ft) high (since 2000), which is about 81 stories. In 1902, it was struck by lightning, which meant that 300 feet of the top had to be reconstructed and the lights illuminating the tower had to be replaced, as they were damaged by the high energy of the lightning.|
At the time of its construction in 1887, the tower replaced the Washington Monument as the world's tallest structure, a title it retained until 1930, when New York City's Chrysler Building (319 m/1046.58 ft tall) was completed (today, the Eiffel Tower is taller than the Chrysler Building). The tower is now the fifth-tallest structure in France. The Eiffel Tower is the tallest structure in Paris, with the second-tallest being the Tour Montparnasse (210 m/689 ft).
The structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7300 tons. There are 1660 steps (360 to the first level, another 359 to the second). It is not possible for the public to reach the summit via the stairs, lifts are required beyond the second platform. Lift tickets may be purchased at the base or either platform. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18cm, due to thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun. The tower also sways 6-7cm in the wind.
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 Barcelona, for the Universal Exposition of 1888, but they rejected it. The tower was inaugurated on 31 March 1889, 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, during the installation of Otis Elevator's lifts.
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