When did the Eiffel Tower open to the public? Google Doodle honours the date

31 Mar 20151 Share

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One of the world’s most iconic landmarks, it is now 126 years to the day since Paris’ Eiffel Tower opened to the public.

And today’s Google Doodle honours the tourist trap, recreating the search engine’s logo in elaborate cables, wrapped around the men tasked with painting the giant construction.

Built for the 1889 World’s Fair, it was fairly unloved back in the day, but soon became a landmark of some distinction.

Named after its engineer (Gustave Eiffel), the architectural masterpiece is 324 metres high, making it the tallest structure around when it was built – it lost that crown when the Chrysler Building was erected in 1930.

It’s far and away the most-visitied ‘ticketed’ monument in the world, and costs the French 20m francs to maintain. It requires 50 metric tonnes of paint every seven years, applied by brush, not rollers or paint guns.

Today's Google Doodle honours the Eiffel Tower's opening to the public

Today's Doodle honours the opening of the Eiffel Tower to the public in 1889

However the most interesting historical point for the tower was in 1925, when costs of the upkeep were becoming too hard to stomach for the French as the country rebuilt itself between the wars.

Con man Victor Lustig lured scrap metal dealers into a fake governmental meeting, offering them to tender for the tower’s destruction.

Tricking them with fake governmental stationary, a dodgy title as the deputy director-general of the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs, and an awful lot of flattery, he managed to start a bidding war – all the while swearing the six to secrecy, for the public outcry of destroying the landmark would be huge.

Andre Poisson, the unluckiest of the six men, was ultimately duped for the cost of the tower, as well as a bribe to keep Lustig on side. So in 1925 the Eiffel Tower was ‘sold’, but Google’s Doodle doesn’t really go into that…

Eiffel Tower image, via Shutterstock

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Gordon Hunt is a journalist at Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com