Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Elle Overseas: The Eiffel Tower as Steampunk Monument

"Here is the string of iron that the wizard has thrown up to the heavens...which he invites his friends to climb..." --Jean Giraudoux

I have returned home from my travels overseas and while in Paris, I once again visited that most recognizable and magnificent of steampunk edifices--the Eiffel Tower...Called everything from a "tragic street lamp" to a "hole-riddled suppository", the Tower was rather reviled at the time of its construction for the Exposition. In 1887, leading artists and tastemakers of the time thought it would bring a "dishonor and ugliness that could not be corrected." Naysayers be damned, no? It was the vision of its creator Gustave Eiffel, whose main design consideration was actually wind resistance and stability--as any proper engineer would be mindful of. He believed that the Tower would "possess its own beauty..." and mused "Do people believe that because we are engineers, beauty plays no part in what we build...?"Completed in 1889, Eiffel's masterpiece stands 1063 ft tall (including its antenna), weighs 7300 tons, has 2,500,000 rivets (like those of boilers and locomotives) and 18,038 iron parts that were created in the Fould-Dupont factories as seen below... Eiffel saw the Tower's scientific possibilities and encouraged it to be used for metereological and aerodynamics purposes, maintaining a lab upon it and encouraging other scientists to perform experiments there as well. This is a shot of the elevator wheels in the North pillar. While waiting to go up, I could see the counterweights and such. What an impressive hydraulics system for its time! Although I have visited the Tower before, I was still in awe of this stunning engineering marvel...

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