Eiffel Tower - Plans and Initial Construction

When Gustave Eiffel saw the drawings prepared by his engineers, Maurice Koechlin and Emile Nouguier, he found them to be "logical, simple, impeccable."  To improve the tower's appearance, however, the two engineers worked with Stephen Sauvestre, an architect.

Jean Compagnon - who would supervise the workers, if the tower were built - worried about the impact of wind at such heights.  Since the structure was open, the men would have to work outside, even during snow and rain.  Would that be safe?

When the Exposition Council decided in favor of the Eiffel drawing, Gustave and his men had to work around a significant problem - before they could break ground.  The high tower would be built in marshy areas, near the Seine River.  How would workers sink the caissons?  (Click on the "zoom in" feature, at Google Books, for a closer look.)  How would they breathe?

Because of their experience with bridge-building, Eiffel's team knew how to address the issue.  They also imposed rules on workers so they avoided getting "the bends." 

What was it like inside the caissons?  Joseph Harriss provides background in his book, The Tallest Tower:

Measuring 50 feet long, 20 feet wide and 10 feet deep, each caisson had a work chamber six feet high within which several men could wield shovels and pickaxes.  They entered from the top through an air lock, and pressure was kept high enough to repel below-surface water.  The walls of the 34-ton caissons were wedge-shaped at the bottom to form cutting edges, making the iron boxes sink as earth was hoisted out in buckets through airtight hatches.  The interiors were illuminated by electricity, something of a luxury since electric lighting was just then being introduced in Paris homes.

None of Eiffel's workers developed the bends:

Work went rapidly - there were no cases of the bends, thanks to strict application of rules governing the rate of decompression when the men left the caissons - and when 40,500 cubic yards of earth had been removed from the four sites [for the tower's foundation], the foundations themselves were laid.  Each pier would rest on a massive pile of cement and stone set obliquely in the earth so that the curving columns that bore the tower's weight would exert their thrust at right angles to the mass.  (Harriss, The Tallest Tower, page 43.)

Clip from "The True Legend of the Eiffel Tower," an English-dubbed, French-language film.

See, also:

Eiffel Tower - Video - The Original Idea and Sketch

Eiffel Tower - Video - Opposition and Working Conditions

Eiffel Tower - Video - Riveters Work in Snow and Wind

Eiffel Tower - Video - Danger Bonuses and Unofficial Opening

Eiffel Tower - Video - Original Life Span of 20 Years

Eiffel Tower - Video - Telegraphy and Meteorology Experiments

Eiffel Tower - Video - Saved by the Battle of the Marne

Media Credits

Clip from True Legend of the Eiffel Tower

Simon Brook

Simon Brook and Pascal Lainé

Key Cast Members:
Jacques Frantz - Gustave Eiffel

Annelise Hesme - Claire Eiffel

Nicolas Vaude - Edouard Barbier

Jean-Pierre Becker - Jean Compagnon

Marc Samuel - Minister Lockroy

Laurent Petitgirard 

Vincent Jeannot

Co-production France-Switzerland-Belgium; Canal+ / Le Musée d'Orsay / RTL-TVi / Télévision Suisse-Romande (TSR) / VAB

Dubbed in English (from French)

Release Date:  2005



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"Eiffel Tower - Plans and Initial Construction" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Nov 15, 2019.
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