6 interesting facts about the Eiffel Tower

  • Associated Press

The Eiffel Tower is one of the world’s most iconic monuments, with millions of visitors coming to marvel at it every year. You may have already known that it was built in 1889 and is re-painted every 7 years, but there are plenty of little-known facts about the tower that you may not know.

Check out these fascinating facts about the Eiffel Tower, and make sure to see the real thing for yourself if you haven’t already.

  • 1. The building of the tower

    Associated Press

    The Eiffel Tower was designed by the French engineer and bridge builder Alexandre Gustave Eiffel to celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the French Revolution. The two years, two months and five days it took to build it is considered both a technical and architectural achievement.

  • 2. The visitors


    Since it opened in 1889, almost 250 million visitors have come to see the tower. TToday, it welcomes almost 7 million visitors a year, 75 percent of whom are foreigners, making it the most visited monument that you have to pay for in the world. A study done by Client Watchdog asked 5,000 visitors about who they visit the tower with, and reported that 3 percent said they visit alone, 18.1 percent visit with friends, and 30 percent said they visit with an organized group. The most popular response was visiting with family, which was made up of 48.9 percent of visitors.

  • 3. The sparkling tower


    The Eiffel Tower has 20,000 lightbulbs, 5,000 per side, that sparkle for five minutes on the hour, every hour, from nightfall to 1AM. What might surprise some is that it is illegal to take a photograph of the tower at night because the light display is considered artwork and therefore protected under copyright law.  Snap off a picture and you can be fined.

  • 4. The capture of Mata Hari


    The French military used the Eiffel Tower’s wireless station to intercept enemy messages from Berlin during World War I. In 1917, the radio station above the tower intercepted a coded message between Germany and Spain that included information about ‘Operative H-21’ otherwise known as the Dutch-born exotic dancer Margaretha Geertruida Zelle  MacLeod, whose stage name was Mata Hari who was spying for the Germans.  Based on this message, the French were able to arrest, convict and execute Mata Hari for espionage.

  • 5. Dangerous and deadly aerial feats at the tower


    For decades, daredevils have used the tower to stage crazy stunts, using everything from parachutes to bungee cords. In 1912, French tailor Franz Reichelt attempted to fly from the first floor with a spring-loaded parachute suit, but crashed 187 feet to the ground instead. Fourteen years later, aviator Leon Collot attempted to fly his plane under the tower but was killed when it became entangled in the aerial from the wireless station, and crashed in a ball of flame.

  • 6. Suicides aren’t totally unheard of, but they’re not that common either


    There have only been 349 successful suicides since the tower first opened in 1889, according to the Societe de la Tour Eiffel. Some were jumpers, while others were people hanging themselves from the beam, and those who did attempt to jump from the first level don’t always die.

Archaeologists: We’ve found ‘Nazi lair’ deep in jungle

Archaeologists: We've found 'Nazi lair' deep in jungle

The aging cardboard passport used by Adolf Eichmann, a high-ranking Nazi who escaped to Argentina after World War II, is shown in Buenos Aires. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

As the Nazis began to suffer battlefield reverses in World War II, they secretly began building a network of hideouts so remote that one of them has only just been discovered, according to archaeologists in Argentina.

A University of Buenos Aires team says it believes three ruined stone buildings in a jungle area near the border with Paraguay formed a lair that Nazi leaders planned to escape to in the event of defeat, the Telegraph reports.

They say that after months of exploring the site, which they had to cut their way to with machetes, they’ve found items including Nazi-era German coins, “Made in Germany” porcelain, and Nazi symbols on the walls.

The site, in a location that would make it easy to slip across the border from Argentina to Paraguay, “is a defensible site, a protected site, an inaccessible place, a place to live in peace, a place of refuge,” the lead researcher tells Argentina’s Clarin newspaper.

“And I think what we find is a place of refuge for the Nazi hierarchy.” But, as theTelegraph notes, Nazis who made it to Argentina didn’t need to hide deep in the jungle: After the war, President Juan Peron allowed the country to become a haven for thousands of Nazis and officials from other defeated fascist regimes.

(Another 1,000 or so Nazis found employment with the US government after the war, according to a recent book.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: ‘Nazi Lair’ Found Deep in Jungle

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Early edition of Magna Carta discovered in Victorian scrapbook


A close-up view of one of four remaining copies of the original Magna Carta, a document written in 1215, is seen at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston June 30, 2014. (REUTERS/Gretchen Ertl)

An early edition of one of the world’s most famous documents, the Magna Carta, was unearthed in a pretty unexpected place – a scrapbook. Mark Bateson, a Kent, U.K.-based archivist, was tasked with looking for a charter from the town of Sandwich when he stumbled upon the rare find. He came across Sandwich’s Charter of the Forest in a Victorian-era scrapbook in the Kent County Council archives that just happened to also contain an edition of the groundbreaking document that dates back to 1300, the BBC reports.

This edition could be worth up to $15 million and is a very significant find, according to experts.

The find comes months before the 800th anniversary of the sealing of the document that established the principles of the rule of law. The first copy of the Magna Carta was drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury on June 15, 1215. It was written to establish peace between King John of England and a group of rebel barons. Among the sanctions established by the law the Magna Carta ensured protections of church rights and limited feudal payments to the king.

The document found in Sandwich is not pristine – it was ripped and about a third of it was missing. Despite this, it is a rare and valuable find. The only other copy that dates back to 1300 is owned by Oriel College at Oxford University.

According the BBC, there are 24 known editions of the Magna Carta in existence.

Possibly sitting at bottom of South Carolina river: Gen. Sherman’s war spoils

Possibly sitting at bottom of South Carolina river: Gen. Sherman's war spoils

In this undated photo provided by the Library of Congress, Gen. William T. Sherman poses for a photo. (AP Photo/Library of Congress)

In 1954, a gas-producing plant closed near the Congaree River in Columbia, SC. But its presence lingers, in the form of roughly 40,000 tons of “taffy-like” black tar that need to be removed from the river.

The State reports on a most unusual side effect of damming the river to do so: the possible recovery of Confederate munitions seized and then dumped by Gen.

William T. Sherman’s Union army a century and a half ago. The State includes a list of what Union troops logged as having captured from their Confederate counterparts in taking the city on Feb. 17, 1865: 1.2 million ball cartridges, 100,000 percussion caps, 4,000 bayonet scabbards, 3,100 sabers, 1,100 knapsacks, and more.

Whatever they didn’t bring with them as they marched toward North Carolina they dumped in the Congaree to keep it out of Confederate hands. The energy company SCANA Corp. will facilitate the Congaree cleanup, which involves exposing about 15 acres of riverbed and removing a tar cap that’s, on average, 2 feet thick—along with any Civil War artifacts, which a separate State article notes would belong to the state.

While the company’s director of environmental services says “we don’t have any direct knowledge of ordnance,” the State points out he also didn’t deny the findings of a September draft report SCANA commissioned that involved the use of sonar and metal detectors.

That report identified 218 sites as “exhibiting signature characteristics that could be associated with ordnance.” Though items have been documented as being salvaged in the 1930s, 1970s, and 1980s, the state’s underwater archaeologist isn’t expecting a mass cache to surface this time around.

“I’m sure there will be some interesting items. I don’t anticipate huge volumes,” he says. (An “underwater Pompeii” was recently discovered off Greece.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Gen. Sherman’s War Spoils May Sit at Bottom of SC River

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California man pays $4.8M for 26 cents from 1792


A Southern California man has spent $4.8 million to purchase 26 cents.

According to Newser, Kevin Lipton submitted a winning bid of $2,585,000 last week for the 1792 penny, one of about only 10 coins that were “experimentally produced” after the U.S. Mint was established.

The piece features a profile of a female face encircled by the words “Liberty Parent of Science and Industry.”

Lipton, who owns a coin wholesaling business in Beverly Hills, paid $2.2 million for the quarter, from the same year.

“It’s like our very first penny,”  Lipton told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s such a spectacular coin. It’s so important, so rare.”

Lipton was searching for the penny, called a Birch Cent, since he saw one in 1981 at a New York auction house. The coin was bought by a developer for a mere $200,000.

According to the Times, Lipton’s bid is the most money ever paid for a one-cent coin. The paper reported that the 55-year-old began collecting coins at age 12 and started his business at age 17.

“They are a great store value, and will only be worth more in the future,” Lipton told the paper of his purchase. “They are literally Mona Lisas of our coinage.”

2015 marks Lincoln museum’s 10th anniversary


Abraham Lincoln and his wife Mary’s carriage are on display as part of the Undying Words exhibit during an announcement of the schedule of events and activities for next year to mark the 150th anniversary of the end of slavery, the conclusion of the Civil War and the death of Abraham Lincoln.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will celebrate 10 years in 2015 with activities and events.

The celebration falls during the year that also marks the 150th anniversaries of Lincoln’s assassination and the Civil War’s end.

The museum’s major exhibit will be “Undying Words: Lincoln 1858-1865.” With the Chicago History Museum, it explores Lincoln’s changing views through five key speeches with unique artifacts.

The museum will become digitally connected. Visitors will be able to see digital content on their mobile devices during tours.

In the spring, “The Battle Hymn Story” will premier in the theater explaining the origins of July Ward Howe’s singular anthem, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

There will be a special summer “under the stars” event outdoors in Union Square Park.


Online: http://www.illinois.gov/alplm

Time capsule found at Massachusetts Statehouse

1975 time capsule unearthed from Mass. State House in Boston

Crews removed a time capsule dating back to 1795 on Thursday from the granite cornerstone of the Massachusetts Statehouse, where historians believe it was originally placed by Revolutionary War luminaries Samuel Adams and Paul Revere among others.

The time capsule is believed to contain items such as old coins and newspapers, but the condition of the contents is not known and Secretary of State William Galvin speculated that some could have deteriorated over time.

Officials won’t open the capsule until after it is X-rayed at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts to determine its contents. The X-ray is scheduled for Sunday.

Originally made of cowhide, the time capsule was believed to have been embedded in the cornerstone when construction on the state Capitol began in 1795. Adams was governor of Massachusetts at the time.

The time capsule was removed in the mid-19th century and its contents transferred to a copper box, Galvin said. Its removal Thursday was due to an ongoing water filtration project at the building.

Pamela Hatchfield, a conservator at the museum, slowly chiseled away at the cornerstone on Thursday to reach the box, a process that took several hours to complete. Galvin said the plan is to return it to the site sometime next year.

The excavation came just months after another time capsule was uncovered from the Old State House, which served as the state’s first seat of government. That long-forgotten time capsule, dating to 1901, turned up in a lion statue atop the building and, when opened, was found to contain a potpourri of well-preserved items including newspaper clippings, a book on foreign policy and a letter from journalists of the period.

Taking the Kids — to the World War II Museum

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    The U.S. Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center. (The Boeing Center)

What are your 14 year olds up to?

Jack Lucas was in the Marines. Yes, he’d lied about his age to join during World War II, but just three years later he won the Congressional Medal of Honor for using his own body to shield three members of his squad from two grenades during the Iwo Jima campaign, nearly getting killed when one exploded.

He survived and became the youngest Marine ever to receive the United States’ highest military honor. The wallet he had in his pocket that day tells just one of the many stories at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, which makes the war real for a generation born long after it was fought.

“In school and on paper, the scale of the war tends to be understated, and is hard to emphasize,” said Stefan Suazo, an 11th-grader who serves as a member of the museum’s youth Victory Corps volunteers.

“In the museum, however, artifacts, veterans and vehicles provide an in-depth look at the sheer magnitude of the event.”

“Speak to the veterans (who are volunteers at the museum),” he suggests. “They are living history, and will be more than happy to share their experiences. They give first-hand accounts of the war, and provide the best information available.”

“This museum really puts you in the shoes of the people who lived the events,” added Ruth Lee, also a junior volunteer. “You’ll learn a lot!”

Like the fact that fewer than 500 soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II. You can see all of their faces in one exhibit.

There are dented helmets, letters home, photographs, flight jackets and K rations, complete with chocolate bars and gum. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than 16 million Americans served in World War II and the museum honors all of them, which is especially poignant as we pause this Veterans Day to commemorate the sacrifices of all those who fought for their country.

There’s a Kids Corner on the museum’s website where kids can make their own WWII-era patch. (Many are on exhibit. Try sending a message with Navy flags, or make a propaganda poster.) There’s also a scavenger hunt designed for school groups, but it’s fun for families, too, as they make their way through the museum. (How long did it take for Andrew Higgins to design and build this special landing craft? Just 61 hours!)

Higgins, we learn, was from New Orleans and had been manufacturing shallow-water work boats to support gas exploration in the Louisiana bayous. He adapted his Eureka Boat to meet the military’s need for a landing craft. By using Higgins Boats, armies could unload across an open beach and have more options in choosing their attack points. In 1938, a small workforce of only 75 workers grew to more than 20,000 by 1943. The Higgins workforce was the first in New Orleans to be racially integrated. His employees included undrafted white males, women, African-Americans, the elderly and the physically disabled.

The National World War II Museum was founded in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and is still growing. The museum has become a top tourist attraction, many of its visitors coming from outside of New Orleans. In 2009, the Solomon Victory Theater complex opened, featuring the exclusive 4-D film, “Beyond All Boundaries,” which is produced and narrated by Tom Hanks. In 2013, the US Freedom Pavilion: The Boeing Center opened with eye level views of WWII-era aircraft.

The museum’s newest pavilion, The Campaigns of Courage Pavilion: The Road to Berlin, will open on the weekend of December 11; the Liberation Pavilion is scheduled to open in 2016 and will explore the post-war era and the war’s continuing influence in our society and world.

Currently housed in three buildings, museum exhibits are arranged around central themes of the war and offer visitors an opportunity to experience the war through the eyes of the men and women who lived it with personal vignettes and interactive elements throughout. Still, this is the kind of museum you need to explain to your kids as you go along — why we fought this war, how young the soldiers were and what sacrifices were made at home.

There are oral history stations where visitors can stop to listen to a soldier’s account of D Day. “If we stood there, we were going to die. … We just had to get to the bottom of the cliffs,” said Lt. Col Bill Friedman. You can listen to more stories in the museum’s digital collection before you visit.

Show the kids what soldiers carried in their backpacks — a towel, a spoon, toilet paper, first-aid packet and pictures from home. See what it was like for the nearly 120,000 Japanese-American families who were forced from their homes into internment camps in the exhibit “From Barbed Wire to Battlefields: Japanese American Experiences in WWII.” Despite this treatment, Some 33,000 Japanese-Americans served their country during World War II.

The Education Department offers family workshops throughout the year to encourage kids and their families to explore the life and lessons of WWII with hands-on exploration of artifacts and activities.

There are also activities to do at home — like Kitchen Memories where kids are encouraged to talk to elderly relatives and friends about their memories about food during World War II.

“We are talking about normal people living through extraordinary circumstances,” said Collin Makamson, who oversees the family programs.

Heroes all.

Amelia Earhart plane fragment identified


A piece of aluminum debris recovered in 1991 appears to belong to Earhart’s lost plane. (TIGHAR)

A fragment of Amelia Earhart’s lost aircraft has been identified to a high degree of certainty for the first time ever since her plane vanished over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937, in a record attempt to fly around the world at the equator.

New research strongly suggests that a piece of aluminum aircraft debris recovered in 1991 from Nikumaroro, an uninhabited atoll in the southwestern Pacific republic of Kiribati, does belong to Earhart’s twin-engined Lockheed Electra.

The search for Amelia Earhart is about to continue in the pristine waters of a tiny uninhabited island, Nikumaroro, between Hawaii and Australia.

According to researchers at The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating the last, fateful flight taken by Earhart 77 years ago, the aluminum sheet is a patch of metal installed on the Electra during the aviator’s eight-day stay in Miami, which was the fourth stop on her attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

Photos: Where Amelia Earhart Plane Fragment Came From

The patch replaced a navigational window: A Miami Herald photo shows the Electra departing for San Juan, Puerto Rico on the morning of Tuesday, June 1, 1937 with a shiny patch of metal where the window had been.

“The Miami Patch was an expedient field repair,” Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News. “Its complex fingerprint of dimensions, proportions, materials and rivet patterns was as unique to Earhart’s Electra as a fingerprint is to an individual.”

TIGHAR researchers went to Wichita Air Services in Newton, Kans., and compared the dimensions and features of the Artifact 2-2-V-1, as the metal sheet found on Nikumaroro was called, with the structural components of a Lockheed Electra being restored to airworthy condition.

The rivet pattern and other features on the 19-inch-wide by 23-inch-long Nikumaroro artifact matched the patch and lined up with the structural components of the Lockheed Electra. TIGHAR detailed the finding in a report on its website.

Photos: Clues Pointing to Amelia Earhart’s Plane

“This is the first time an artifact found on Nikumaroro has been shown to have a direct link to Amelia Earhart,” Gillespie said.

The breakthrough would prove that, contrary to what was generally believed, Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan, did not crash in the Pacific Ocean, running out of fuel somewhere near their target destination of Howland Island.

Instead, they made a forced landing on Nikumaroro’s smooth, flat coral reef. The two became castaways and eventually died on the atoll, which is some 350 miles southeast of Howland Island.

In 10 archaeological expeditions to Nikumaroro, Gillespie and his team uncovered a number of artifacts which, combined with archival research, provide strong circumstantial evidence for a castaway presence.

“Earhart sent radio distress calls for at least five nights before the Electra was washed into the ocean by rising tides and surf,” Gillespie said.

The search for Amelia Earhart is about to continue in the pristine waters of a tiny uninhabited island, Nikumaroro, between Hawaii and Australia.

Previous research on a photograph of Nikumaroro’s western shoreline taken three months after Earhart’s disappearance revealed an unexplained object protruding from the water on the fringing reef.

Photos: Jars Hint at Amelia Earhart as Castaway

Forensic imaging analyses of the photo suggested that the shape and dimension of the object are consistent with the landing gear of a Lockheed Electra.

Moreover, an “anomaly” that might possibly be the wreckage of Amelia Earhart’s aircraft emerged from analysis of the sonar imagery captured off Nikumaroro during TIGHAR’s last expedition.

The object rests at a depth of 600 feet at the base of a cliff just offshore where, according to TIGHAR, the Electra was washed into the ocean. An analysis of the anomaly by Ocean Imaging Consultants, Inc. of Honolulu, experts in post-processing sonar data, revealed the anomaly to be the right size and shape to be the fuselage of Earhart’s aircraft.

The new research on Artifact 2-2-V-1 may reinforce the possibility that the anomaly is the rest of the aircraft.

Photos: Inside the Search for Amelia Earhart

“The many fractures, tears, dents and gouges found on this battered sheet of aluminum may be important clues to the fate and resting place of the Electra,” Gillespie said.

In June 2015, TIGHAR will return to Nikumaroro to investigate the anomaly with Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) technology supported by Nai’a, a 120-foot Fiji-based vessel that has served five previous TIGHAR explorations.

During the 24-day expedition, divers will search for other wreckage at shallower depths and an onshore search team will seek to identify objects detected in historical photographs that may be relics of an initial survival camp.

“Funding is being sought, in part, from individuals who will make a substantial contribution in return for a place on the expedition team,” Gillespie said.

Inside Mussolini’s wine cellar that become a secret air raid bunker


The shelter was never used, as Mussolini was ousted by his own private council on Sept. 8, 1943. (Reuters)

A World War II air raid shelter built by the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini is being opened to the public for the first time.



The converted wine cellar, 10ft beneath of what was his private villa in Rome, included a series of bunkers that were built under the Italian capital to provide shelter for bureaucrats and party leaders, Reuters reports.



The 180ft-long bunker has a double set of steel, gas-proof doors, and an air filtering system that could provide oxygen for 15 people for 3-6 hours. Inside the shelter were gas masks and helmets tucked in cubbyholes at the end of a corridor

The entrance is located in the garden about 400 feet away from Mussolini’s former living quarters and had three different escape routes: by the theatre, in a shaft by the tennis court and underneath a pond.



The bunker has been reopened to mark the 70th anniversary of Rome’s liberation from fascism.  Bought by the city of Rome in 1977 it was made into a museum but the buildings and grounds were in a poor state so restoration work began in the 1990s.  Groups such as the website Bunker di Roma campaigned the city to make it a tourist site.



The bunkers have not been entered since the end of the war, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

Mussolini ordered its construction in 1940, but the bunkers weren’t much use.  By the time Allied bombings hit the Italian capital Mussolini had been toppled by his own private council on Sept. 8, 1943. 

Mussolini was leader of the Italian fascist movement from 1923 to 1943.