The Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice tower located on the Champ De Mars in Paris, named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. Erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the 1889 World's Fair, it has become both a global cultural icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The tower is the tallest structure in Paris and the most-visited paid monument in the world; 7.1 million people ascended it in 2011.
The third level observatory's upper platform is at 279.11 m the highest accessible to public in the European Union and the highest in Europe as long as the platform of the Ostankino Tower, at 360 m, remains closed as a result of the fire of August 2000. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.
The tower stands 320 metres (1,050 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, because of the addition, in 1957, of the antenna atop the Eiffel Tower, it 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 (elevator), 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 lift - stairs exist but they are not usually open for public use. 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.
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.
Ground to the second level:
The South pillar acquired a completely new fairly standard electrically driven lift in 1983 to serve the Jules Verne restaurant. This was also supplied by Otis. A further four-ton service lift was added to the South pillar in 1989 by Otis to relieve the main lifts when moving relatively small loads or even just maintenance personnel.
The East and West hydraulic (water) lift works are on display and, at least in theory, are open to the public in a small museum located in base of the East and West tower, which is somewhat hidden from public view. Because the massive mechanism requires frequent lubrication and attention, public access is often restricted. However, when open, the wait times are much less than the other, more popular, attractions. The rope mechanism of the North tower is visible to visitors as they exit from the lift.
Second to the third level:
The original lifts from the second to the third floor were also of a water-powered hydraulic design supplied by Léon Edoux. Instead of using a separate counterbalance, the two lift cars counterbalanced each other. A pair of 81-metre-long hydraulic rams were mounted on the second level reaching nearly halfway up to the third level. A lift car was mounted on top of the rams.
Ropes ran from the top of this car up to a sheave on the third level and back down to a second car. The result of this arrangement was that each car only travelled half the distance between the second and third levels and passengers were required to change lifts halfway walking between the cars along a narrow gangway with a very impressive and relatively unobstructed downward view. The ten-ton cars held 65 passengers each or up to four tons.
The tower has two restaurants: Le 58 Tour Eiffel, on the first floor 311 ft (95 m) above sea level; and the Le Jules Verne, a gastronomical restaurant on the second floor, with a private lift. This restaurant has one star in the Michelin Red Guide. In January 2007, the multi-Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse was brought in to run Jules Verne.