Amazing Places

You Can Buy a Piece of the Eiffel Tower This Month

Back in the 1880s when the Eiffel Tower was first built, it was as a temporary World's Fair exhibit, destined to be dismantled. Since then, though — in part because it was useful for transmitting telegraphs — it's become a permanent fixture in the Paris skyline. Sort of. Not every element was permanent.

Related Video: Eiffel Tower Struck by Lightning During Storm

Want to Buy a Staircase?

For an example of its less-than-permanent features, consider the wrought-iron spiral staircase that originally connected the Eiffel Tower's second and third floors. It was removed from the tower back in 1983 to make room for an elevator. Ever since, segments of the staircase have been sold to venues around the world — and at the end of this month, on November 27, a 24-step section will go up for auction at Parisian auction house Artcurial.

If you want to buy a section of it, though, you'll need to pony up at least €40,000 in European currency, or $45,000 in U.S. currency. That's where bidding starts. The auction house estimates it won't go past €80,000, but you never know. People love the Eiffel Tower — so much so that a woman literally married it in 2008.

This staircase isn't even the tower's most striking or well-known feature, but it still has some serious cachet. Previous segments of the stairway have been auctioned off to private collectors and other institutions around the world. In the States alone, there's a section of the staircase at Disneyland and another one near the Statue of Liberty.

(Fun fact: Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed the tower, actually designed part of the Statue of Liberty, too.)

The Evolving Eiffel Tower

If you don't want to buy this particular staircase, it probably won't be your last chance to buy a slice of the original Eiffel Tower. The building itself will never go up for sale, but it's always changing, shedding staircases and evolving in even more substantial ways. After all, it started out temporary, then wandered into permanence. It's also changed colors multiple times. That's no casual thing since the tower is more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) tall.

It even once functioned as a giant advertisement. Back in 1925, glowing, 100-foot-high letters were installed down the face of the tower, vertically spelling "CITROËN," a French car company. These letters made the Eiffel Tower into a billboard, more or less, and stayed up for more than a decade.

The tower continues to change today. In fact, as part of Paris's preparations for the 2024 Olympics, the city began a 15-year project to renovate and modernize the tower in 2017. Though designers will preserve some of Eiffel's original touches (if they didn't, could it still really still be called the Eiffel Tower?), they've already totally remodeled the second floor, and plan to make other major changes to security, lighting, and other features. If you don't want to buy a staircase, it seems you'll be able to buy plenty of other original fixtures soon enough.

And if it makes you feel squeamish to buy a "piece of history," keep in mind that people buy and sell chunks of the Berlin wall all the time, and the universe hasn't ground to a halt. History isn't inherently sacred! Especially not the Eiffel Tower —it was once a billboard, after all.

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Hear the whole story of the Eiffel Tower's construction in "Eiffel's Tower: The Thrilling Story Behind Paris's Beloved Monument and the Extraordinary World's Fair That Introduced It" by Jill Jonnes. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Mae Rice November 20, 2018

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