Smithsonian Journeys Dispatches

On This Day in 1889…

...the Eiffel Tower was inaugurated. The structure is the tallest building in Paris—it's more than 1000 feet high, about the same height as an 81-story building. Here are five things you might not know about this French icon...

View of the Eiffel Tower at night. Photo: Gonzalo Guerrero, Smithsonian Magazine Photo Contest.

1)  It was originally built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World's Fair, which celebrated the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.

2)  People hated it. Newspapers of the era were filled with scathing criticism. The public called it an eyesore. The Parisian arts community called it "odious," even considering its shadow a "black mark" on the city.

3)  The Eiffel Tower was the world's tallest building from 1889 until 1930, when the Chrysler Building was completed in New York City.

4)  The Tower has hosted more than 200,000,000 visitors (more than the entire population of Brazil) since its opening in 1889.

5)  Gustave Eiffel also designed the Abu El-Ela Bridge in Cairo, Egypt, the General Post Office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, and served as the chief engineer on the Statue of Liberty project.

Whatever you think of the Eiffel Tower, there are tons of reasons to visit Paris. Click to learn more about our journeys through France.

What's your favorite international landmark? Share below.