The Eiffel Tower was only supposed to stand in Paris for 20 years… but experiments in “wireless telegraphy” helped convince the powers that be to keep the tower in place. Plus: this gallery of the weirdest-looking cars to ever roll off the assembly line is maybe not the aesthetic equal of the Eiffel Tower, but it sure is fun.
15 Monumental Facts About the Eiffel Tower (Mental Floss)
Damn Your Eyes: The Ugliest Cars Ever Made (Automobile)
It’s the day in 1889 that the Eiffel Tower was formally dedicated and opened.
It’s now about as iconic as a structure can get, but originally it was only intended to stand for 20 years.
The tower was originally built to be the entrance arch for the World’s Fair in Paris, which marked the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
The designers wanted the tower to be 300 meters high, the tallest structure in the world at the time, and resistant to wind, so that the top wouldn’t wiggle around too much.
They succeeded, by the way; the Eiffel Tower’s structured so that it never sways more than a few inches.
But by 1909, the World’s Fair was long over, and while it was still the tallest structure in the world and a big hit with the public, its 20 year lease was up, and there was talk that it would be torn down.
So what happened? Radio.
Gustave Eiffel had long tried to convince the powers that be that the tower was as useful as it was attractive.
He’d opened the structure up to astronomers, meteorologists, physicists and more.
But the biggest success came with experiments in sending telegraph signals wirelessly.
Eiffel mentioned to a French military captain who was working on wireless telegraphy that a giant structure like the tower would be a pretty useful place to put an antenna.
Sure enough, the captain set an antenna up on top, and a communications station down below, and the authorities decided maybe the tower ought to stay on a little longer.
The seven million people who visit the tower in an average year can say thanks to a little thing called radio for keeping it there.
We radio hosts are always doing good deeds for the people.
No need to thank us, justice is our reward.
Check out a very unusual photo gallery in Automobile magazine, of some of the strangest-looking cars that ever rolled off the assembly line.
Among my favorites is the British car that sort of looks like the front of a sports car attached to the back end of a wood-paneled station wagon.
There’s also the 1975 Triumph TR-7; one reviewer suggested it looked the way it did because the designers hoped it would repel the ground and maybe go faster!