Eiffel Tower: Information On How It Was Built

The Eiffel tower was a laborious construction. Here is information about that process.

Under the term of Frances President Gre'vy projects to display France's products of industry was undertaken. Playing host to a World's fair, Gre'vy had hoped to foster a spirit of national pride and idealism. Of his greatest supporters was the Commerce and Industry minister Edouard Lockroy. He obtained a budget of $8.6 million for the fair. Within this budget he urged the creation of a tower, 1000 feet high, to symbolize the tradition of the pyramids and gothic cathedrals as well as a symbol of France's prosperity and industrial promise.

In 1886,Lockroy, petitioned architects to submit plans for this tower. Over 100 proposals were received. One of the proposals included a design for a tower that would also be an enormous sprinkler that would help Paris through times of drought. Another was that of a huge guillotine to commemorate France's revolution.

The winning design was that of Gustave Eiffel. He was a noted builder in metal. He was noted for his construction of railway bridges. He had submitted a plan for a 1000-foot tower made of wrought iron, to be built on the Champ de Mars. However the credit for the design must go to his chief of research, Maurice Koechlin. Their design fit every expectation of the judges and he was given the contract on January 8th 1887.

The foundation was dug to a depth of 53 feet. It was comprised of 20 feet of concrete, huge blocks of limestone, and 2 layers of hard stone. In each leg the workers set 2 anchor bolts 26 feet long and 4 inches in diameter. The most ingenious element was Eiffel's placement of a hydraulic jack at the point where the horizontal platform was placed to enable the raising or lowering of the platform to ensure it was level.

There were over 18,000 girders and trusses manufactured for this undertaking. France's shops were turning out 400 tons of girders a month. For the ease of handling, individual pieces were kept small weighing no more than 3 tons each.

The structure was erected with the use of steam-powered cranes. When the could no longer reach the site an system of "Creeper Cranes was developed. These cranes ran on the same vertical tracks that would later accommodate the elevators. From July to October of 1887, the structure ascended to 90 feet. It continued upward due to the prefabrication of the pieces. The worker had only to assemble the parts on-site.

When the tower had reached 180 feet, the four legs had to be joined together. This was done with a 25-foot wide iron "Belt". Upon completion, the Eiffel tower was the highest structure made by man. It was 986 feet high and weighed over 9,000 tons. Its base covered an area of 2 ½ acres.

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