Mar-31: A Day of Spectacular Beauty in the Old and New World
On this day, Paris’ Eiffel Tower opened. It was named after the engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. It was built as the entrance arch to the 1889 World’s Fair.
The structure was initially criticized by some of France’s leading artists and intellectuals for its design, but 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; 6.98 million people ascended it in 2011. The tower received its 250 millionth visitor in 2010.
The tower is 324 metres (1,063 ft) tall, about the same height as an 81-story building. Its base is square, 125 metres (410 ft) on a side. 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. Because of the addition of the aerial atop the Eiffel Tower in 1957, it is now taller than the Chrysler Building by 5.2 metres (17 ft). Not including broadcast aerials, it is the second-tallest structure in France, after the Millau Viaduct.
The United States takes possession of the Danish West Indies after paying $25 million to Denmark, and renames the territory the United States Virgin Islands.