Eiffel tower

Understanding the Eiffel Tower, an Engineering Marvel of the 1800s — Transcontinental Times

FRANCE: The Eiffel Tower is an engineering marvel, and the fact that a structure was built so tall some 130 years ago makes it even more fascinating. Let’s understand the history, construction and mechanics of the “Iron Lady.”

To add some statistics, the Eiffel Tower is 300 meters high, and if we count the spire of the antenna, it culminates at 330 meters. which is three times the height of Big Ben.

Purpose of the tower

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The inspiration for the Eiffel Tower was drawn from the competition for the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1889, in which a challenge was issued to design a tower that would be the tallest structure in the world, stretching 1000 feet in the sky.

Therefore, Gustave Eiffel gathered a group of engineers and came up with a plan to design a metal frame structure.


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The tower foundation consisted of creating 2m thick concrete slabs (for a solid base) under each of the tower bases and burying them 7m underground. But, as two of the four bases were on board the river seine, the engineers were concerned that water would seep in, so they created a metal shoe structure at the bottom of the bases, which prevented water from seeping in.

For the next part, the engineers built the feet of the Eiffel Tower. To do this, they had to make sure they built them simultaneously, otherwise they could have ended up with the Leaning Tower of Paris.

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To achieve this, hydraulic jacks under each of the various legs were used to lower and raise them to ensure that the first stage was completely horizontal.

Now, to build the final part of the Iron Lady, the main frame (body) of 18,000 different parts has been prefabricated in the factory and assembled on site using 2.5 million rivets. As the body of the tower grew, it was necessary to climb up there, and this was done with the help of crawling cranes, which went up the legs of the tower, and oddly enough, the guide shafts creeper cranes are the ones used today in the elevator to get people to the top.

Eiffel Tower. Photo credit: Multiple sources.

More facts

After two years of construction, the tower was completed on March 31, 1889, and Gustav Eiffel was the first man to climb the 1,710 steps to the top, where he unfurled the French flag. It was fair enough that he was the first man to climb it because he invested tons of money in the project.

But that investment paid off as, from his apartment, he watched around two million visitors to the tower in the first year alone, which equates to $1 million in ticket sales.

The tower initially had several names: “Pylon of 320 meters”, “Tower of 320 meters”, “Tour de Monsieur Eiffel”, and finally “LA TOUR EIFFEL” or “LA TOUR EIFFEL”.

At first, the Parisians didn’t like it. They saw it as a bit of an eyesore in the Parisian landscape, and some of them also thought it would topple over and collapse on top of their homes.

But, since this tower had to be dismantled right after it was built, it lasted very well and was also the tallest structure for 40 years, and now it is a true icon of Paris.

On the first floor, 72 names of pioneering scientists are inscribed in the tower. The tally includes famous scientists, including Ampère, Coulomb, Navier, Cauchy, Fourier, and more.

Also Read: Engineer’s Day: Inspirational Quotes From Our Prominent Indian Leaders

  • Russell Chattaraj

    Graduated in mechanical engineering, writes about science, technology and sports, teaches physics and math, also played cricket professionally and has a passion for bodybuilding.

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