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Eiffel Tower begins countdown to 2000

April 6, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ They may have been a day late, according to the British, but what’s a day when we’re talking millenniums.

With fireworks and cheers, the French began counting down 1,000 days to the end of the 20th century on that most French of monuments _ the Eiffel Tower.

At midnight Saturday, a giant digital clock installed on the second floor of Paris’ famous tower flashed ``J-1000.″ The French word for day is ``jour.″

The clock is 109 feet long and 40 feet high. Mounted 330 feet above ground, it will be visible both day and night, thanks to 1,342 lights fed by 2.5 miles of cables.

City officials said it took 9,000 hours to construct.

But some might say it came 24 hours too late. The British began the countdown with their own clock _ in Greenwich, England, the home of Greenwich Mean Time _ at midnight Friday.

Paris Mayor Jean Tiberi, inaugurating the clock, said he didn’t want ``to enter into a competition.″

``What is important is Paris, with the symbol of the Eiffel Tower, a magnificent, prestigious monument,″ he said.