Eiffel's Tower-The Monumental Symbol of France

October 15, 2011
By Blaker GOLD, Portland, Maine
Blaker GOLD, Portland, Maine
15 articles 9 photos 38 comments

Once built for use as a temporary statue to be dismantled after a mere twenty years, the Eiffel Tower is presently one of the most recognized landmarks in the world. At the time of its commission, the 324 meter tall multistory Eiffel Tower was meant to be a provisional edifice to celebrate the Worlds Fair held in Paris, France in May of 1889. The tower has a fascinating history including its conception, the innovative use of puddled iron, the early outrage of French citizens, and its later manifestation as a renowned national monument.
A competition was held to choose the blueprints for the tower, and in upwards of seven-hundred proposals for the design were considered. After a long and precarious time spent considering each design, M. Gustave Eiffel’s blueprints were chosen, and thus began the monumental rise of the Eiffel Tower. Situated at Champ de Mars, a large public green space in Paris, the construction of the Eiffel Tower began in 1887. It was completed in two years and two months, five days prior to its commencement, in the year of 1889. At the time of completion, the Eiffel Tower was the tallest man-made structure in the world.
The Eiffel Tower served as the entrance arch to the World’s Fair of 1889 and although it was yet to be complete the Tower was available for any visitors to venture to the second platform at 115 meters tall. At the base of the tower held many attractions, spread out in front were the fairgrounds, complete with pavilions depicting countries all over the world. The Eiffel Tower acted as the center, or base of the fair and was one of the main attractions.
In the mid-1700s, a higher quality iron was created called puddled iron, the material used in constructing the Eiffel Tower. Puddling is the purification of charcoal-iron through a healing process, which eradicates all impurities. The molten iron is then cast into blocks of steel called ingots, and stacked in a pile. The filtered iron was then put through a shingling mallet (an enormous power hammer which was capable of hard blows). These extreme blows formed the iron into a small bar of metal for further processing known as a billet, and then were rolled, cut up into lengths, piled once more and the whole process repeated over again. Each additional time the procedure was repeated, the more superior the quality the finished puddled iron became. Because of its strong quality Eiffel decided puddled iron would be best for his design, instead of regular iron (http://www.wrought-iron-crafts.com/puddled-iron.html).
All of the puddled iron that makes up the immense meccano-like structure comes from the iron factories of Messieurs Dupont et Fould (since closed down), based in Pompey (Meurthe-et-Moselle), a suburb of Nancy, Lorraine. The Pompey factory supplied M. Eiffel with 18,038 pieces of puddled iron, which were connected using 2.500.000 rivets by three hundred workers. Of those three hundred workers, one died during the construction. Considering the extreme height of the tower this is an exceptionally low amount of deaths. (http://www.frenchmoments.com/Eiffel_Tower.html)
Heat expands the tower, and contingent on which side is facing the sun the tower inclines just a fraction in that direction and like the majority of most materials, puddled iron undergoes a process called thermal expansion. Thermal expansion is when a material alters its dimensions while it faces extremely high or low temperatures. This can cause the tower to expand and contract fifteen centimeters from the hottest to the coldest day (https://engineering.purdue.edu/MSE/AboutUs/GotMaterials/Buildings/patel.html).
Just prior to the commencement of the Eiffel Tower, the controversial edifice generated an extremely strong opposition from the residents of Paris, and around the world. A petition consisting of three hundred names was presented to the Paris city government, objecting to the construction of the tower. The appeal read, “We, the writers, painters, sculptors, architects and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigor and all our indignation, in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower” (http://www.french-at-a-touch.com/Newsletters_and_articles/facts_about_the_eiffel_tower_ii.htm). Environmentalists protested that the substantial size of the tower would play havoc with the flight of birds over Paris. And even the press published outraged reviews, pronouncing the Eiffel Tower as a "useless monstrosity.”
The tower, scheduled for demolition in 1909, did prove to be of use. A telecommunications company requested to use the tower to broadcast signals, the Eiffel Tower was saved. This was one of the first examples of radio transmission technology used in France, and today the tower still serves as a radio tower although with some technological improvements from 1909.
Although it was meant as a temporary structure for the worlds fair of 1889, due to its usefulness the tower was saved from deconstruction. In time, France began to embrace the Eiffel Tower as its national symbol and a monumental landmark.

The author's comments:
This is an educational piece I wrote about the Eiffel Tower. I hope it opens reader's eyes to the monumental history behind one of the most famous historical sights of the world.

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