On Sunday 31 March 1889, Gustave Eiffel showed some of the famous personalities of the day who had come to attend the official inauguration ceremony around what was then the tallest tower in the world.
After climbing the 1,710 steps that led to the top of the Tower, they unfurled the French flag to the sound of a 21-gun salute. Gustave Eiffel wrote on a woman's fan: "The French flag is the only one with a 300-metre pole."
The official inauguration of the Eiffel Tower was on May 15th, 1889, the opening day of the Exposition Universelle.
The Eiffel Tower remained the world's highest construction until the Chrysler Building was erected in New York in 1930.
La tour Eiffel et le dôme central - Exposition universelle de 1889 by © Parisienne de photographie - Léon et Lévy / Roger-ViolletEiffel Tower
On May 15th, 1889, the Eiffel Tower welcomes its first visitors.
People from all over the world gathered in the city of Paris to have a look at this masterpiece.
Bassin de la tour Eiffel - Exposition universelle de 1889 by © Parisienne de photographie - Neurdein/ Roger-ViolletEiffel Tower
The 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris received millions of visitors. Amongst them, 1,953,122 came to see the Eiffel Tower: almost 12,000 a day!
The Tower was an immediate success.
From the very first week, although the lifts were not yet in service (they would be from the 26th May), almost 30,000 visitors climbed the monument using the staircase: a total of 1,710 steps to the top!
And still today, the view from the top is as spectacular as it was back then!
Un des magasins de souvenirs de la tour Eiffel - Exposition Universelle de 1900 by © Parisienne de photographie - Neurdein / Roger-ViolletEiffel Tower
All sorts of boutiques (sale of souvenirs, photographers’ booths, binocular rental, refreshments) and restaurants opened up on the monument.
The main Parisian places are indicated and allow visitors to locate themselves from the top of the Tower.
Now, monuments from all over the world are indicated.
On the first floor, four restaurants, each in a different style, were installed: the Russian restaurant, the Anglo-American bar, the French restaurant and the Flemish restaurant.
From the outset, the lifts allowed hundreds of thousands of visitors to climb the Tower safely to embrace the whole of Paris.
Never before had the limits of such heights and loads been broken.
Two of the original lifts are still in service on the Eiffel Tower today. Carefully preserved, this exceptional heritage still testifies to Gustave Eiffel’s visionary genius.
A universal Tower of Babel, almost 250 million visitors of different ages and origins have come from all over the planet to see the Tower since it was opened in 1889. As France’s symbol in the world and the showcase of Paris, today it attracts almost seven million visitors a year, making it the world's most popular paid-entry monument.
Conception—Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel