The Eiffel Tower - A Tower for the Ages

Over the last couple decades, DE has had many inquiries about the Eiffel Tower.   Here are a few little known facts (current as of 1997):

The Eiffel Tower was designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel who was a chemical engineer by education.    Eiffel was hired by a rail manufacturing company and began practicing civil engineering at age 25 as the Project Engineer of a bridge spanning the
Garrone River at Bordeaux.    The Eiffel Tower was denounced as an eyesore when first proposed and was called the "tragic lamppost" and "Grande Suppositaire" by the press.    At 990 feet tall, the Eiffel tower almost doubled the height of the tallest man-made structures to date; the Washington Monument at 554 feet high, and the Great Pyramid of Cheops at 482 feet.    The wrought iron tower ushered in a new age of tall buildings constructed of iron and steel.


The tower was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution and was the center-piece of the Exposition Universelle of 1889.    Construction began in January 1887 and was completed on 31 March 1889.
Gustave Eiffel directed a team of 50 engineers in the design and detailing of the structure.    The field workforce consisted of 100 fabricators and 130 erectors who took 15 months to build the world's tallest structure.    The world's record structure height is now held by many guyed towers that reach heights just over 2,000 feet tall.    The world's tallest self-supporting structure is the CN Tower completed in 1976 by the Canadian National Railways, stands 1815 feet 5 inches tall, and is constructed of reinforced concrete.    The world's tallest occupied office/residential buildings are the
Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,  standing at 1,483 feet tall, and are also constructed of reinforced concrete.























The Eiffel Tower consists of  9,547 tons of wrought iron comprising 18,000 members,  and has 2.5 million rivets.   Individual structural components have a maximum assembled weight of 3 tons.   The tower is supported by concrete caissons measuring 50 feet long, 22 feet wide, and 7 feet deep.  Forty-five (45) tons of zinc-rich paint are applied to the tower every 7 years.  The iron arch under the first platform level serves no structural purpose and was added to the tower after the platform was in place.


The Eiffel Tower is privately owned and has always been operated for profit as a commercial enterprise.    Immediately following its completion, people were charged a fee to travel to various heights on the tower.    A trip to the top cost 5 francs, and 1.9 million people paid for the privilege in the first year following its completion.    Seventy-five percent (75%) of the construction cost was recovered in the first year.    The tower now also serves as a communication structure and supports radio and television broadcast equipment.


A.G. Eiffel was also the lead engineer for many more great works in his lifetime.    Some noteworthy projects include: the Garabit Bridge which rises 400 feet above the Truyere River, the Nice Observatory, the Bon Marche department store.    Eiffel designed and patented the lock gates used in the Panama Canal.    Eiffel developed a new method of pile driving and designed a great many bridges, ports, and buildings during his long illustrious career.       A.G. Eiffel was born in Dijon, France on 15 December 1832.   Eiffel died at the age of 93 on 27 December 1923 at his mansion on Rue Rabelais, Paris.

Today, with common computer technology and integrated CADD systems, it is estimated that the Eiffel Tower could be designed and detailed in as little as three months with a workforce of 3 people.    This design-time requirement will continue to shrink as major advances are made in the art of structural engineering and as steel detailing software development progresses.     A one-third scale replica was recently completed in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA.