The Eiffel Tower
By Guadalupe Schmidt-Mumm and Noa Sutton
Colegio Nueva Granada | Bogotá, Colombia
The Eiffel Tower is a tall iron structure in Paris, France, that is loved by tourists and French citizens alike. Since its construction over a century ago, it has become an important destination for sightseeing.
The Eiffel Tower was named after its creator, Gustave Eiffel. As an engineer, he also built bridges, churches, and even the internal metal skeleton that supports New York City’s Statue of Liberty. Eiffel designed his tower for the World’s Fair of 1889, hosted in Paris. Its ambitious height of 330 meters (1,083 feet) made it the tallest human-built structure in the world. Surprisingly, the city originally planned to dismantle it at the end of Eiffel’s 20-year lease.
As it was being constructed, Eiffel received criticism for the tower’s appearance and excessive altitude. Forty prominent artists of the era signed a letter that called it “useless and monstrous.”
When the tower opened, however, the public flocked to see it. Thousands even climbed to the top level before the elevators were operable. Because of its popularity and masterful, artistic engineering, the landmark became a national icon.
Keeping It Up
Preserving the monument requires an expensive paint job every seven years. Iron will last indefinitely as long as it’s protected from rusting. Throughout the tower’s lifespan, the same technique has been used of stripping, cleaning, and brushing on new layers of primer and paint by hand. The process can take many months from start to finish.
Forty-one years after the Eiffel Tower made its debut, the Chrysler Building in New York took the title of World’s Tallest Building. However, Eiffel’s masterpiece has kept its top spot in the Paris skyline. It remains a distinct symbol of the city and a source of pride to its residents.
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- The tower has 1,665 steps in total. If you were allowed to climb all the way from the bottom to the top, how long do you think it would take you? Explain your reasoning.
- Every repainting of the tower requires 50-60 tons of paint. Find the mean and median of the amount of paint that has been used during these applications: 52, 60, 58, 54, 59, 52, 60, 51, and 55 tons.
- Imagine the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower are standing side by side with the sun shining on them. The Statue of Liberty is 93 meters tall, and its shadow is 10.7 meters long. If the Eiffel Tower is 330 meters tall, how long will its shadow be?
During its construction, the Eiffel Tower was famously attacked as an eyesore. Prominent Parisians called it “a tragic street lamp,” “a hideous column,” and “a gigantic black chimney.” Can you think of a similar situation in your community or school where change has created a backlash? How was the conflict handled? What happened as time passed?
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