Théâtre à la tour Eiffel

The most incredible installations at the Eiffel Tower

Thursday 7 January 2021

Modified the 07/01/21

Since its construction, the Eiffel Tower has housed various installations - now gone - that you would never expect!

Gustave Eiffel’s penthouse apartment

Gustave Eiffel actually set up a small apartment at the Tower’s summit, on the upper platform of the top floor. The public only had access to the lower level. Covering an area of 100 m2 (1,076 sq ft), this “accommodation” was used as an office, a laboratory for experiments, and a convivial place for Mr. Eiffel to receive distinguished guests. 
Read more about it: Did Gustave Eiffel live in the Tower?

A newsroom on the 2nd floor

The newspaper Le Figaro took up residence on the Tower’s 2nd floor for six months to display its craft during the 1889 World’s Fair. The Figaro pavilion housed a small editorial office and a printing press. Visitors could watch the 24 employees (journalists, proofreaders, printing technicians) at work through bay windows. A newspaper was edited almost daily and reported news about the World’s Fair and the Eiffel Tower.

Pavillon le Figaro à la tour Eiffel
Figaro Pavilion at the Eiffel Tower - ©CNAM

 

The 1st-floor post office

For a time, there was a post office located on the 1st floor of the Eiffel Tower, at an altitude of 57 meters (187 feet). Operating just like a regular post office (postal and banking services), it was considered the smallest and most beautiful of all Parisian post offices! It was highly prized by stamp collectors because mail could be posted from there with collector’s stamps and received the famous illustrated Eiffel Tower postmark.
The love story between the Eiffel Tower and stamp collectors dates back to the 1889 World’s Fair. It’s at the Eiffel Tower that illustrated postcards made their first appearance in France! Mailboxes were available on each floor so that visitors could send their postcards, duly stamped with private postmarks, attesting to their passage through each level of the Tower.

The Eiffel Tower radio station

An important symbol for the Iron Lady, radio actually turned out to be her savior! The Eiffel Tower was erected for only 20 years, but it survived thanks to Gustave Eiffel who turned it into a laboratory for scientific experiments, particularly in the field of wireless telegraphy. He invited General Ferrié and the scientist Eugène Ducretet to conduct the first experiments there. In 1898, Ducretet successfully established the first radio link (in Morse code) between the Tower and the Pantheon.
After the Great War, the Tower was home to the first radio station in France, “Radio Tour Eiffel”, launched in 1921 and located in the North pillar. Until 1940, it broadcast daily programs, at first short but growing longer as time went by. These ranged from weather reports to Paris stock market prices, music programs, and even live concerts.

Emission de radio
The early days of radio: Sacha Guitry, Yvonne Printemps and General Ferrié - © Eiffel Tower Collection

 

The 1st-floor theater

The 1st floor has the largest surface area of the Tower’s levels and regularly hosts exhibitions, animations, and installations! When it was inaugurated, the Tower housed four restaurants on the 1st floor. One of them, located on the Trocadero side and called the “Flamand”, was later transformed into a theater. The theater was converted back into a restaurant during the 1900 World’s Fair but then returned to its role as a theater until the First World War in 1914.
Its wooden architecture was conceived and designed by the Eiffel Tower’s architect, Stephen Sauvestre, but was replaced after the 1937 World’s Fair to make it more modern. 

Théatre au 1er étage de la tour Eiffel
Theater on the 1st floor of the Eiffel Tower - © Eiffel Tower Collection

 

A parking lot under the Eiffel Tower 

Until the 2000s, the esplanade was open and served as an ordinary Parisian public space. Since the beginning, the esplanade beneath the Tower has alternated between being a pedestrian zone and a space for vehicular traffic. At the beginning of the 20th century, ladies and gentlemen dressed in Belle Epoque fashion would alight from their horse-drawn carriages directly onto the sidewalk in front of one of the Tower’s pillars to visit the Iron Lady! Later, during the campaign “Paris tout voiture” (Paris: A city for cars) in the 70s and 80s, a large parking lot occupied almost the entire surface of the esplanade. 
Today, the esplanade is permanently safeguarded as a pedestrian zone and not only allows visitor access to the Eiffel Tower through one of the pillars, but also offers souvenir shops and food and beverage areas. Accessible free of charge to all (you just have to go through security checks at one of the two entrances to the site), the esplanade is now reunited with the Eiffel Tower’s historic gardens (renovated in 2018) and offers a peaceful setting for a not-to-be-missed typical Parisian stroll!
 

Vue aérienne sur la tour Eiffel
Aerial view of the Eiffel tower in 1975 ©IGN 2020 via remonterletemps.ign.fr 

 

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