EIFFEL TOWER, BUILDING

Audio File length: 2.31
Author: STEFANO ZUFFI E DAVIDE TORTORELLA
English / USA Language: English / USA

An unmissable and ubiquitous feature of the Parisian skyline, the Eiffel Tower was built as a "temporary" structure and has no recognizable style: it is a progressive monument that uses steel structures, and relates to no previous architectural structure. This is perhaps one of the reasons it has been so successful. According to the original plans and international regulations for buildings erected in universal exhibitions, it should have been demolished within twenty years of being built.  Nevertheless, it continued to look out proudly over the capital, defying the disbelief of scientists, engineers and mathematicians of the time, who would insist on how fragile and unstable it was. But do you know why it was never demolished? Simple - money. They realized that dismantling it would cost an astronomical amount, much better leave it in place!

So Gustave Eiffel was right about everything and everyone: the monument that was detested by many Parisians soon became the symbol of the city, and could also boast of being the tallest structure in the world for over forty years, until the Empire State Building was built in New York.

There soon turned out to be a number of potential uses for the "useless" tower as well: a landmark for adventurous aviation pioneers, an anchorage point for airships, a lookout tower during The Great War, and the support for a radio antenna that increased its overall height by approximately 20 meters.

General Gustave Ferrié used the top of the tower for his pioneering experiments in wireless telegraphy. For artist Robert Delaunay it was one of his favorite subjects: between 1910 and 1925 he painted around 30 pictures of it.

There's another surprise in the "basement" of the tower too, below the broad base on which the four colossal pilasters stand. There's an underground bunker dating from The Great War, with secret passages leading to the banks of the Seine, and it also houses the remarkable machine room for the hydraulic elevators, which are still just as effective as the modern ones that were installed many decades later!

 

FUN FACT: The tower is immune but not insensitive to adverse weather conditions. According to precise calculations by the designer, it can oscillate up to nine centimeters in strong wind, and in hot weather the steel can expand and curve up to 18 centimeters without any adverse effects!

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