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Eiffel's Tower Is a Monument to Teamwork

For the 1889 World's Fair in Paris, more than a hundred artists submitted plans to design the centerpiece, the masterpiece of the Exposition Universelle. The winner was an engineer named Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, who proposed a 984-foot tower, the tallest building in the world at that time. Skeptics scoffed at his design, calling it useless and artless. Eiffel called her La Dame De Fer—the Iron Lady. Gustave Eiffel's name was on his tower, but Eiffel himself thanked seventy-two scientists, engineers, and mathematicians on whose shoulders he stood. Their names are inscribed on the tower.

The Tower also relied on 300 riveters, hammermen, and carpenters who put together the 18,038-piece jigsaw puzzle of wrought iron in two years, two months, and five days. Oh, and don't forget the acrobatic team Eiffel hired to help his workers maintain balance on very thin beams during strong gusts of wind. We have each of them to thank—as well as the Paris city council that voted in 1909 not to tear down the tower despite the fact that its twenty-year permit had expired. The tower's longevity also depends on each councilmember and to each of the voters who put them in office.

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