Technical map of the Eiffel tower


Technical map of the Eiffel tower

Context reminder

When Gustave Eiffel received from his two collaborators, Maurice Koechlin (head of the design office of the company Eiffel) and Emile Nouguier (head of the office of methods, in charge of establishing real means of construction) the plan He was not thrilled with a 300m tower, but the general idea being good and the challenge interesting, he let them improve their idea and propose a more realistic plan. A few months later it was done, and the sketches were interesting enough to be studied in depth. Suddenly, Eiffel set out to build this tower, the 1889 Universal Exhibition in Paris, falling right.

At that moment, in 1884, the final plans were made. Eiffel had already made contacts for the realization of his tower, the competition of architect was going to be launched to know who would erect the highest tower of the World in Paris. The plans were completed in September 1884 and were filed in the name of Eiffel, Koechlin and Nouguier, but quickly Eiffel will buy the rights of its employees, which will give him the right to title the tower "Eiffel Tower", making us forget the real people who created the tower. The plans are tabled under the following title:

New provision to build piles and metal pylons up to 300 meters high

In 1900, more than 10 years after the end of construction Gustave Eiffel will write a book in which he tells everything you need to know about the tower, starting with construction techniques, but also recalling the contest initial, the terms of its financing, etc. This document, very technical, is augmented by a second book containing the plates serving as support for the text. It is this second book which represents, on its own, the technical plans of the Eiffel Tower, reproduced here. Note that they are in public access, available on the website.

Composition of the descriptive plates

"The 300m tower - Planches" is the annex of the technical description of the Eiffel Tower. This book is divided into two parts. The first gives the technical plans of the Eiffel Tower as they were made for the Universal Exhibition of 1889, so these are the initial plans, the most interesting. The second part concerns the improvements made to the tower for the 1900 World's Fair, there is less to describe obviously.

Here below are the famous descriptive boards, classified according to the order decided by Gustave Eiffel, in 1900. They come from the site of the National Library of France, the BNF, through their website Due to a pagination error when creating the book, boards XXVI and XXVII do not exist. Other boards were doubled, tripled or even quadrupled.



Plate I. Elevations. diagrams. Location in the 1889 exhibition

As is often the case in this kind of technical boards, the first one is devoted to a general study of the building concerned as well as to its location. It contains its design, its altimetry, the indications of vertical cutting, which serve as a reference to the technical description of the structure, as well as the horizontal planes of the rafters. It is also on this plate that is drawn the fields of Mars, with the location of the tower.


Plate II. Type of soil. Clearing in the open air. Compressed air cuttings. Concrete masonry

This second plate concerns the excavations and the nature of the grounds. On the left side there is the nature of the soil at the level of the excavations, ie the distribution of the soil type according to the depth. This is complemented by the design of the wells, which also gives the nature of the soil to a depth greater than that of the excavations. The right side shows the excavations as they are, with the concrete blocks. Everything is on the side, of course, very precisely. As there are 4 pillars, the plan shows 8 diagrams, for each pillar there is the top view and the one in section.

Plate III. General plan of excavations. Masonry foundations

The third technical plan concerns masonry, which is logical since it comes right after the excavations. This plan shows the location of the masonry blocks compared to the excavations. As there are 4, the diagram consists of 4 parts. This is where we see that the pile 3, the one located in the South, contains a hollow basement used for various things. There is access on the west side.

IV. Foundation masonry (continued)

The 4th technical board is the continuation of the 3rd, it contains the plans of the masonry coming over the foundations. While the 3rd one is devoted to the views in height, this plate shows the views of section. We can clearly see the shape of the masonry. There are also details of chimneys, tunnels and other corridors.

Plate V. Walls around the foundations of piles and foundations

This fifth board shows the finishing wall of the masonry. On the right we see the cut of what has been done, and it is almost to the first time in these plans that we recognize a visible element of the tower, concretely. Until then everything was buried or very technical, while from now on we see the external shape of the pillars as it was planned, and we see that it is the same form that exists today. This plan also shows the walls around the foundations, and surprise, all the batteries are not housed in the same sign, the walls are different.

Plate VI. Supports metal supports on masonry. Hydraulic cylinders. Pumps

The sixth plate is interesting in that it describes the setting of the metal part on the masonry. It is the support of the crossbowmen, whose description is very complete. This is the first study of metal parts of the Eiffel Tower, those of the lowest part. Curiously it is also on this board that are drawn the pumps and hydraulic cylinders that were used to adjust the batteries, when setting up the first floor.


VII. Metal frame crimping

Plate 7 is relatively important, it is the one that describes the 29 vertical sections of the Eiffel Tower. They are listed, that is to say that we can read the dimensions of each section. There is also a precise description of the basement arch and lower struts. This plan ends with the drawing of the summit section, that of the campanile. It is clear that it has been completely modified since the time of construction, it has no longer the same shape.

VIII. Metal frame in elevation. Spacers, braces and floors

This plate concerns the metal part. Eiffel describes precisely the spacers of each section and the braces. The spacers are the diagonal bars, for each section. Bracing is a device designed to take wind loads back into the structure and descend to the ground along the rafters. This plan also shows the structure of the 3 floors.

IX. Lower part. Generalities and details

With the board 9 one enters quite far in the technical detail. This board describes a large number of elements, that's why it seems "fuzzy". But on closer inspection we see that it describes the junctions between the rafters and the section beams or the spacers, as well as the gussets, (flat pieces from which stem reinforcements). There is also a pretty impressive drawing of the vertical projection of the first floor. This drawing was probably very complex to do.

X. Lower spacer and large beams of the first floor

Plate 10 relates to the detailed description of the assembly of the spacers, the braces and the main beam of the 1st floor. There is a lot of technical scheme, but all that is pretty uninteresting, except for those who are very interested in mounting the tower. But you have to go far in detail to appreciate this board. What is more accessible to the general public is the detail of the beam that supports the first floor, quite detailed.

XI. Decorative bows, beams of arches and beams of the first floor

This board is the continuation of the X board, it describes the following technical details of assembly of the different elements of the Eiffel Tower. There is also the detail of the decorations of the first floor, it allows to have a view on what had been installed initially. It should be known that these sets have been partially redone since.

XII. Panels 9 to 13 of the second floor

This plate shows the assembly diagrams of the panels 9 to 13, ie those rising on the 2nd floor. These are very technical descriptions, there is no place for artistic performances, for example. We must how are listed the beams forming a box, because this part is a succession of caisson smaller and smaller.

XII bis. Panels 16 to 18

The panels 16 to 18 are those of the junction of the 4 batteries in a single pylon, they must be calculated independently of the rest, this is the reason for the presence of this board. In addition to the cutting planes, there are many technical assembly details, but also the description of the 2nd floor staircase and the way it is attached to the rafters.

XIII. Gallery of the first floor

This board is interesting in that it shows how was mounted the gallery of the first floor. It should be known that this gallery no longer exists, it has been replaced throughout the history of the tower by scattered buildings, such as those that exist today. This gallery was around the first floor, there was a decor of the style of the time, in the late nineteenth century. We can see on this plan the rounded shape of each panel.

XIII bis. Second floor gallery

Although seeming to be a big mess, this board is an essential element in the plans of the Eiffel Tower. It represents the detailed assembly diagrams between the various structural elements, but also contains a plan of the 2nd floor. This board is very technical.

XIV. Panel 29 and third floor

Another board describing an 'assembly detail'. Here, Gustave Eiffel describes the techniques to assemble the upper part of his tower. It shows the description of the beam of the third floor, the one that supports the pulleys of the elevator, as well as the entire gallery of the 3rd floor. There is even, above the third floor, a room reserved for the engineer. The left part of this plate gives the dimensions of various beams of this upper part, as well as the description of the railing, etc.

XV. The top part

This board is quite interesting insofar as it describes the top part of the Eiffel Tower, the old campanile, now destroyed. The plans show, with supporting measures, the form of kiosk that had the Eiffel Tower before the successive transformations that made it as it is today. The right part is very technical, it is the assembly of the assemblies of the summit, there is not a great interest to detail it.

XVI. Sets of floors of various floors

This board details the different floors that the tower counts. There is the floor of stack 3, at ground level, that of the 2nd floor, that of machinery, that of the 3rd floor, etc., plus various structural elements associated with these floors. There is also a large amount of beams, joists and joists to support these floors. This technical board is quite interesting.

XVII. Details

This board is very messy, it contains a lot of small drawings. The goal is to describe the assemblies of the different floors, so it is related to the previous board that describes these floors. There are essentially floor fastening systems on the metal structure of the tower.


XVIII. Ground floor and first floor

Plate XVIII is probably the most interesting of all. It contains the interior arrangements of the pillars and the first floor, it is on this board that we see where the theater was, the two restaurants (one French, the other Russian, locker rooms, local guardian of night, etc.). It is a little technical board, despite the fact that there are still ribs, of course.

XIX. Floors and upper parts. Exterior elevations and amenities

This board, the 19th, is very interesting too. It shows the 1st and 2nd floors of the tower as they were at the time of the construction of the tower. We can see the shape of the pavilions, the pavilions, the decorations. The summit part is as well described. These drawn elements are less technical elements than a general representation with mentions about what is involved. There are also few ribs.


XX. Set of elevators Otis and Edoux. Vertical section along the diagonal of the stack l (North) to stack 3 (South)

This board is the first that shows the bowels of the tower. It describes the Otis and Edoux elevators, which were powered by a water system repelled by pumps. So there was a need for tanks, which are also described here. This plan is rather general, it shows more the implantation of these elements than it describes them, which will be done in the following boards.

XXI. General plan of the lifts

This plan, the 21st, is the continuation of the previous one. it also shows the location of the elevators, but in plan view. It also contains a big legend, which explains point by point the different elements of these lifts from where we can understand their mode of operation. These are water elevators, which require pumps, tanks and pipelines.

XXII. Otis lift. Engine

This technical plate is complex but uniform: It contains all the information necessary for the manufacture of the Otis elevator, from the pump to the pipes, from the installation in the cable tower.

XXII bis. Engine (continued) and transmission

Even more complete and complex than the previous board, it is the result. It contains the description of the Otis elevator, which has a lot of elements, as the plan shows.

XXIIter. Elevator beam, track, cabin, safety devices

This board is about the Otis elevator, the one that goes from the 2nd to the 3rd floor. Very complex, it contains a very large number of technical description of the various elements that make up this elevator. This board is perhaps the least interesting of all because it is too technical, precisely.

XXII quater. Counterbalance of cab, trolley, safety, various pulleys

This plan is a continuation of the previous one, it concerns the installation of the Otis elevator. It describes the description of the counterweight, the truck, the safety systems and the cabin support elements, such as the pulleys. There is also a written description of the safety system, which reacts in the event of a cable breaking or if the car is getting too much speed. It is also reassuring to note that Gustave Eiffel had thought of it, from the construction of his tower.

XXIII. Articulated piston lifts, Roux Combaluzier and Lepape system. Lower part. Mechanism

This technical sheet explains the different components and the way in which the Roux lift, Combaluzier and Lepape are installed. if this plan is complex enough, it is not necessary to understand it to know how was made the Eiffel Tower.

XXIII bis. Upper part and continuation of the mechanism

This technical sheet explains the different components and the way in which the Roux lift, Combaluzier and Lepape are installed. if this plan is complex enough, it is not necessary to understand it to know how was made the Eiffel Tower. This is the continuation of the previous plate.

XXIII ter. Edoux lift. Second floor and intermediate floor. Together, details

This board concerns the Edoux elevator, the one that goes up from the 2nd to the 3rd floor. It reads the technical description of the climbing device, a big pump and its tank. He also describes a large number of small devices related to this elevator, such as a clutch.

XXIII quater. Third floor. Together and more details

Again an explanatory board on the functioning of the elevator Edoux which goes from the 2nd to the 3rd floor. This board contains more text, the schematics are a little more rare. it describes how this elevator works, and there are the drawings of the technical parts, all with ribs.


XXIV. Diagram of the assembly - Crane

This descriptive plate is interesting because it shows how the tower was built, from an elevation point of view. in fact we see cranes progressing in the sky at the same time as the tower, and their systems of attachment to the structure. There are also explanations by text on this mode of assembly.

XXV. Assembly of the lower part. Pylons and scaffolding

This plate was made by the Bureau of Methods, like all those in this chapter. She shows how the Eiffel Tower will be assembled from the ground up to the first floor. It shows the central scaffolding, scaffolding piles, and patterns associated with them.


XXVIII. Stairs from the ground floor to the first floor

This board shows how the staircase from the ground to the first floor was installed. This is a general plan, which describes the rise in the piles more than a precise plan of quotation.


XXIX. French restaurant and Russian restaurant

The XXIX technical plate describing the Eiffel Tower is very interesting because it shows us elements that have disappeared today. These are the two restaurants on the 1st floor, the French restaurant and the Russian restaurant. There is always a restaurant at the Eiffel Tower, the Jules Verne, but it is not the same as at that time. The plans show in particular the similar facades to each other, with relatively few ribs. It's more of a general plan than anything else.

XXX. Anglo-American Bar and Theater

Another interesting board for anyone interested in the history of the Eiffel Tower. It shows the theater on the first floor, as well as the Anglo-American bar. The theater, as indicated, was during the World Fair of 1889 a Flemish restaurant. This technical plate is closer to the previous one, which describes the two French and Russian restaurants.


XXXI. Beams and Lattice Section. Data for the calculation of the framee

The board XXXI is one of the most important of the book, it is the one that gives the sections of the main elements of the structure of the Eiffel Tower. It shows the section of the rafters, which are the long metal bars starting from the ground and arriving at the top, and lattices, the beams forming caissons.

XXXII. Determination of the resistance of the lower part

This technical board is a calculation board, expressed in various forms. There is the diagram of the sharp forces and the resistance of the rafters to the forces of the wind. Here we are in the heart of the calculation of the resistance of the Eiffel Tower.

XXXIII. wind resistance in the upper part

These calculations are the result of the calculations of the previous plate. The difference is that here the calculations are done on the upper parts of the tower, while the previous plate concerned the lower part. These are just calculations and result tables.

XXXIV. the resistance of the large beams of the first floor. Pressure on the foundation floor of the batteries

There is not much more to say than what the title says about this board. It describes the resistance of the large first-floor beam and the ground pressure of each pile, in tables of numbers and diagrams. It is like the two previous boards, a set of complex calculations.



XXXV. Lift Fives-Lille. All major organs

This board describes the elevator Fives-Lille, its components, from a general point of view. It's a pretty complex board.

XXXVI. General layout of distribution apparatus (overall plan)

This board is the continuation of the previous one, the XXXVe. It represents the elevator Fives-Lille in detail. it is a fairly complex board in the margin of the Eiffel Tower since it is not a structural element of the tower.

XXXVII. (Elevations) and switchgear of the distribution

Another complete board dedicated to the Fives-Lille lift of the Eiffel Tower. It is like the previous ones of quite complex technical data which explains the precise forms and the settlements of the different elements of the pumps and the systems of elevation.

XXXVIII. Accumulators and their accessories

New board on the elevator Fives-Lille, these diagrams show how are the tanks of the elevating device. There are also indications of its location in the tower.

XXXIX. Presses motrices. Stop and start valves with servo motor

This technical plate follows the previous ones describing the elevator Fives-Lille. This one presents the servo-motors and a whole lot of mechanical parts which are related to it, whose valves for example.

XL. Regulators of speed. Mechanism of slowdown. Coupler. Various appliances of the distribution

Another board on the elevator Fives-Lille, which has a lot. This elevator is very complex in its design and implementation, it requires a large number of schema. This one is particularly complex, it is one of the most difficult boards to understand.

XLI. Ascenseur Fives-Lille - Appareil funiculaire
XLI. Lift Fives-Lille - Funicular device

The elevator Fives-Lille is very largely described in these boards, there are many elements to describe. This plate presents the funicular apparatus, with great precisions in the ribs.

XLII. Security devices

This board presents the various safety systems of the Fives-Lille elevator, the one that goes up to the third floor of the tower. These systems are pretty well described, with a lot of information, but read so it is difficult to understand them.

XLIII. Vehicle. Together

It does not seem but it is the technical description of the elevator cabin Fives-Lille, the one up to the 3rd floor of the Eiffel Tower. This is a side shot, but looking closely we recognize the shapes of the cabins there were at the time.

XLIV. Vehicle. (After)

It does not seem but it is the technical description of the elevator cabin Fives-Lille, the one up to the 3rd floor of the Eiffel Tower. This is a side shot, but looking closely we recognize the shapes of the cabins there were at the time.

XLV. Details of safety brakes and various

This plate presents the details of the braking systems necessary for the safe operation of the Fives-Lille elevator, the one that was in place at the end of the 19th century to go up to the 3rd floor.


XLVI. Modifications of platforms and batteries

This plate shows the changes made to the Eiffel Tower for the 1900 exhibition, especially the stairs and platforms, including the third floor.

XLVII. Restaurants and central pavilion of the second platform

The last technical sheet describing the Eiffel Tower concerns the modifications made to the buildings on the first floor, the two restaurants (French and Russian). The shape of the facades, a little different from those in place in 1889, can be clearly seen here.

See also:

History of the Eiffel tower

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