Sunday, April 1, 2012

Eiffel Tower...E VOILA !!!

The Eiffel {y'-ful} Tower, an immense stucture of exposed latticework supports made of puddle iron, was erected for the Paris Exposition of 1889. The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII of England) officiated at the ceremonial opening. Of the 700 proposals submitted in a design competition, one was unanimously chosen, a radical creation from the French structural engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (b. Dec. 15, 1832, d. Dec. 28, 1923), who was assisted in the design by engineers Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, and architect Stephen Sauvestre.
However, the controversial tower elicited some strong reactions, and a petition of 300 names — including those of Guy de Maupassant, Émile Zola, Charles Garnier (architect of the Opéra Garnier), and Alexandre Dumas fils — was presented to the city government, protesting its construction. The petition read, "We, the writers, painters, sculptors, architects and lovers of the beauty of Paris, do protest with all our vigour and all our indignation, in the name of French taste and endangered French art and history, against the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower."
Nature lovers thought that it would interfere with the flight of birds over Paris. But the Eiffel Tower was admired by Rousseau, Utrillo, Chagall, and Delaunay. It was almost torn down in 1909 at the expiration of its 20-year lease, but was saved because of its antenna — used for telegraphy at that time. Beginning in 1910 it became part of the International Time Service. French radio (since 1918), and French television (since 1957) have also made use of its stature. In the 1960s, it was the subject of a wonderful study by semiologist Roland Barthes.
Built to celebrate the science and engineering achievements of its age, soaring 300m / 984 ft. (320.75m / 1,052 ft. including antenna) and weighing 7000 tons, the structure consists of two visibly distinct parts: a base composed of a platform resting on four separate supports (called pylons or bents) and, above this, a slender tower created as the bents taper upward, rising above a second platform to merge in a unified column.
This unprecedented work, the tallest structure in the world until the Empire State Building was built about 40 years later, had several antecedents. Among them were the iron-supported railway viaducts designed by Eiffel, an arch bridge over the Douro River in Portugal with a span of 160 m (525 ft), and a design for a circular, iron-frame tower proposed by the American engineers Clarke and Reeves for the Centennial Exposition of 1876. Eiffel knew and publicly acknowledged this influence; he was no stranger to the United States, having designed the wrought-iron pylon inside Frederic Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty in 1885. Later in the same year, he had also begun work on the cupola of the Nice observatory.
Eiffel was the leading European authority on the aerodynamics of high frames (he wrote "The Resistance of the Air" in 1913). In the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the curve of the base pylons was precisely calculated so that the bending and shearing forces of the wind were progressively transformed into forces of compression, which the bents could withstand more effectively. Such was Eiffel's engineering wizardry that even in the strongest winds his tower never sways more than 4-1/2 inches. The superskyscrapers erected since 1960, such as the World Trade Center, were constructed in much the same way.
However difficult its birth may have been, the Tour Eiffel is now completely accepted by French citizens, and is internationally recognized as one of the symbols of Paris itself.
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