The Eiffel Tower !!!………..
What is the first thing that pops up in your mind when someone says Paris? I can bet my life that it’s
Who hasn’t heard about the iconic iron tower with the most unique design, artistic trusses ?. A true masterpiece of structural engineering and architecture!!!. It has become the global cultural symbol of France.
Having the honor of being the tallest building in the world from 1889 to 1930, presently it is the second tallest freestanding structure in the country. The 324m (1,063 ft) tall structure provides the highest view-in place in entire Europe.
The puddle iron lattice tower is nicknamed by the locals as ‘La dame de for which stands for ‘Iron Lady’ in french. Just like its name, it stands erect, strong, and lustrous as an armored soldier.
The construction of the tour de force involves a great history with distinguished architects, engineers, and workers. But, everything is forgotten with the passage of time.
So today let’s reminisce a few pages of this french tower’s history and cherish its existence.
The construction of the magnificent Eiffel tower began on 28 January 1887 under Architect Stephen Sauvestre and Structural Engineers, namely Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier. The motive behind its ideation was to create a cynosure for the upcoming global fair named Exposition Universelle, celebrating the 100th year anniversary of the French Revolution.
The name of the ferric tower is kept after the engineer Gustave Eiffel, under whose company its design and construction was done. Initially, Eiffel was not much impressed by the embryonic designs of the tower sketched by Koechlin.
It was at this moment when Sauvestre was roped in as the architect who gave the Tower its decorative arches at the base, a glass dome on the top and added ornamentation.
The newly approved design was put out for public exhibition in 1884 but faced criticism regarding its unachievable 300m height for those times. But, it was approved due to the impracticality of the rest of the proposals( wink, a blessing in disguise).
Little hopes were left until the contract was signed in 1887 and construction began.
Objections faced by the Eiffel tower
The various artists, intellectuals criticized the iron tower on its artistic grounds while the architects, sculptors questioned its debatable erection due to the massive height. For the first time in history till 1887, artisans had come together and submitted a petition against a proposed building.
Gustave Eiffel, coming to the rescue of the colossal tower, responded by comparing it to the Pyramids in Egypt. He had only one question to the petitioners that ” Wasn’t it a herculean task to build the pyramids back in the 26th century ? but humans made pyramids possible.”
Gustave questioned them that how could a tower become a blot of ink in world history.
People were too early to judge a structure still under construction. Gustave was supported by various writers and poets of the country. Though you can never please everyone in the room, so Eiffel tower remained an eyesore for some even after completion.
The construction of such an enormous beauty was a challenge in itself. In 1887 it was the next to impossible task, but who has ever been able to stop humans. Technology, machinery, and engineering in the 1870s were nothing compared to today’s but nothing could impede Gustave.
Do you know that around 18,038 iron pieces are joined together using 2.5 million rivets in the Eiffel tower…!!!!… Time taken just for the joining of legs of the Eiffel took a year. It involved a humongous 300 on-site workers every day.
Another major hurdle to be traversed was to equip the tower with safe passenger lifts. A French company successfully installed lifts till the first level, but to reach the second level was unfeasible as it wasn’t a straight track.
No French company was ready to undertake it.
Then entered a European company named Otis Brothers & Company, but their proposal was rejected on the grounds of patriotism. No foreign material to be used, period….
But till today the lifts made by the Otis Brothers are being used to move from the second to the third level of the tower. Back then the lifts held 65 passengers in comparison to today’s 110.
Eiffel Tower celebrated its red-letter day on March 31, 1889, when various government officials, press representatives were led to the top floor. Eiffel hoisted a large Tricolour to the accompaniment of a 25-gun salute fired at the first level. It took about an hour to reach the first level, climbing 1,710 steps on foot.
Though much work was left to be done, the Eiffel had garnered acceptance and love from the public who were in its opposition just a year ago.Its popularity can be calculated by the fact that even before the lifts entered service, there were more than 1 million visitors by the end of the 1889 exposition.
Many famous people visited The Eiffel Tower including Prince of Wales, Sarah Bernhardt, ‘Buffalo Bill Cody, and Thomas Edison. Such an honorable moment it would have been for Gustave Eiffel…!!!…
There was an office and printing press of a French newspaper Le Figaro, on the tower’s second level. A patisserie was also opened there. At the top, there was a post office where visitors could send letters and postcards as a souvenir of their visit.
Was The Eiffel to be scrapped?
The Eiffel Tower was designated to be scrapped later. It had a permit of 20 years and was to be deconstructed in 1909 after its possession by the City of Paris. But it’s impossible to end things made out of true passion and dedication.
The tower proved to be valuable for radiotelegraphy, it was allowed to remain after the expiry of the permit, and from 1910 it also became part of the International Time Service. Gustave Eiffel used his apartment at the top for meteorological observations and other experiments.
Triumphs at Eiffel Tower
The tower was of great help to many pilots, scientists, and other people.
Alberto Santos-Dumont had won 100,000 franc prize to become the first person to fly from St. Cloud to the Eiffel Tower and back in less than half an hour. Many other pilots have also flown under it and observed world records.
Father Theodor Wulf measured radiant energy at the top and bottom of the tower. He found more at the top than expected, incidentally discovering what are known today as cosmic rays.
In 1914, at the outbreak of World War I, a radio transmitter located in the tower jammed German radio communications, obstructing their advance on Paris and contributing to the Allied victory at the First Battle of the Marne.
The Eiffel tower was also put to use in experimental low-resolution television transmissions.
Atrocities faced by The Eiffel
In 1940, during the German occupation of Paris, the lift cables were cut by the French. The tower was closed for the public with the abolishment of all repair works.
When Hitler saw the Allies nearing Paris, he ordered General Choltitz to demolish the entire city along with the Eiffel tower. Von Choltitz disobeyed the order.
In 1967, Montreal Mayor mediated a reticent agreement for the tower to be dismantled and temporarily relocated to Montreal to serve as a landmark and tourist attraction during Expo 67. But, the plan was embargoed.
A walk to remember
The pages of the history of the Eiffel are unending and perpetual. It has been standing unabashedly for 132 years now and will continue to exemplify the glory of Paris and its culture. It has been a witness to various proposals and love stories.
Though it held the title of The tallest building for 41years until the Chrysler Building topped out in 1930. But, the charm, captivating, and enticement can never be topped out by any other structure.
The Eiffel Tower saw much opposition, rejections, hatred but emerged victorious just like an Iron Lady. It stands up to its nickname. Today it tops the bucket list of the majority of the wanderlusts, an honor it deserves.
Many years have gone past, many feet have tread on the tower, and many more will. It has seen the transmuting eras while exuberating its brilliance and singularity.
There still are various untouched aspects of the historic past of The Eiffel Tower but for today I bid adieu to the Eiffel in the language it comprehends….Au Revoir…!!!!!…
–by Sambhavi Yadav