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The Eiffel Tower (French: Tour Eiffel) is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars beside the River Seine in Paris, France.

Introduction

It is the tallest structure in Paris and one of the most recognized monuments in the world. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, 6,719,200 people visited the tower in 2006 and more than 200,000,000 since its construction. Including the 24 m (79 ft) antenna, the structure is 324 m (1,063 ft) high (since 2000), which is equivalent to about 81 levels in a conventional building.

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 — 1,047 ft tall) was completed. 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), although that will soon be surpassed by Tour AXA (225.11 m — 738.36 ft).

The structure of the Eiffel Tower weighs 7,300 tons. Depending on the ambient temperature, the top of the tower may shift away from the sun by up to 18 cm (7 in), due to thermal expansion of the metal on the side facing the sun. The tower also sways 6-7 cm (2-3 in) in the wind.

The first and second levels are accessible by stairs and lifts. A ticket booth at the south tower base sells tickets to use the stairs which begin at that location. On the first platform, the stairs continue up from the east tower. The third level summit is only accessible by lift. Once you are on the first or second platform, the stairs are open for anyone to ascend or descend regardless if you have purchased a lift ticket or stair ticket. The actual count of stairs includes 9 steps to the ticket booth at the base, 328 steps to the first level, 340 steps to the second level, and 18 steps to the lift platform on the second level. When exiting the lift at the third level, 15 more steps exist to ascend to the upper observation platform. The actual step count is printed periodically on the side of the stairs to give an indication of progress. The majority of the ascent allows for an unhindered view of the area directly beneath and around the tower except during brief stretches of the stairway that are enclosed.

Maintenance of the tower includes applying 50/60 tons of three graded tones of paint every seven years to protect it from rust. On occasion, the color of the paint is changed — the tower is currently painted a shade of brownish-grey. However, the tower is actually painted three different colors in order to make it look the same color. The colors change from dark to light from top to bottom, but it looks the same because of the background (the sky being light and the ground being dark). On the first floor, there are interactive consoles hosting a poll for the color to use for a future session of painting. The co-architects of the Eiffel Tower are Emile Naugier, Maurice Koechlin and Stephen Sauvestre.

(from Wikipedia)

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