Secrets of the Eiffel Tower Continued


This blog article is a continuation from last weeks blog.  There are several facts about the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France, that many people do not know.

The Eiffel tower was slated to be destroyed.

After the World Fair of 1889, it was the intent of the Paris government to disassemble the Eiffel tower for scrap metal.  Because it’s architect and designer, Gustave Eiffel, paid for 80% of the tower’s construction cost he was permitted to have the structure stand for 20 years in an effort to recoup some of the money he spent building the tower.  In one strategic move to save the tower, Eiffel put an antenna on the Tower’s pinnacle and paid for experiments that would test the boundaries of wireless signals. The tower was proven to be invaluable and that it could send and receive wireless messages, which became particularly valuable to the French military in WWI. Today there are over 110 antennas located at the top of the tower broadcasting radio and television signals around the world.

The Eiffel tower was not always a worldwide symbol of romance.

During the construction of the Eiffel Tower Paris, many artists signed a petition against building the tower calling it monstrous and outrageous. There were about 300 prominent artists and intellectuals who signed the petition.  The petition failed to sway the opinion the city leaders and construction of the Tower continued.

Daredevils have died at the tower.

Because of the Tower’s heights and notoriety, many thrill seekers have used the tower to perform stunts and dramatic feats.  Some of the more common stunts used parachutes, bungee cords, and thin wire to walk across. Two of the more notable deaths that occurred at the tower involved French tailor, inventor, and parachuting pioneer Franz Reichelt and pilot Leon Collot.  Reichelt jumped from the first floor of the Tower using a parachute suit he designed that was spring-loaded. Reichelt wanted to design a parachute suit pilots could wear if they needed to exit their plane while in flight.  Reichelt conducted experiments from his 5th-floor apartment using dummies, which was successful.  Unfortunately, Reichelt fell to his death, 187 feet below, when his parachute-suit experiment did not expand sufficiently. On February 28, 1926, Leon Collot, the second notable Tower death, died trying to fly his plane beneath the span of the tower.  Collot made a bet that he could fly his plane under the span of the Eiffel Tower, which he did successfully.  It was not until Collot attempted to elevate his plane that it became caught in Ariel wire.  The plane fell into some trees below and Collot burned to death when the plane caught fire.

The Eiffel tower was used to capture Mata Hari.

The French military used the wireless signals beaming from the Tower’s antennas during World War I to intercept enemy messages. The French learned that the German army was planning an attack at the battle of the Marne.  This intelligence allowed the French military to plan a counterattack tipping the balance of power in during the war.  Three years later, another message would be intercepted between Germany and Spain providing details about a German spy named Mata Hari.  She was eventually arrested and convicted of spying on behalf of Germany.  She was executed by firing squad.

There is a scientific laboratory in the Eiffel Tower.

When Eiffel designed and built the Eiffel Tower, he installed a laboratory that would be used to conduct scientific experiments in the areas of astronomy, meteorology, aerodynamics, and physiology. Eiffel, along with other French scientists, would use this lab to learn more about the physical world.  In 1909, an arrow dynamic wind tunnel was installed by Eiffel at the base of the tower and tens of thousands of experiments were carried out. Among some of the more notable people to use this win tunnel, included the Wright brothers and Porsche automobiles.