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Technological context of the construction of the Eiffel Tower


The time of the construction of the Eiffel Tower is called "the industrial era", it corresponds to the end of the nineteenth century, slightly after the United States, already a little ahead of Europe. This era is marked by a great step forward of know-how and techniques, it sees increasing opportunities through the study and discovery of new physical properties, such as the revolution of electricity, electromagnetism, or role of bacteria in human anatomy. Regarding the Eiffel Tower, it is the progress of the metallurgy that had the greatest impact, because before the industrial era the buildings could be built only in stone or mortar, so there was a limit at their heights because too high, the buildings collapse under their own weight. Moreover, building a tower over 1000 feet was a challenge for the engineers. And it is the industrial age that provides the answer, with large-scale iron ore mining and processing, that will allow the construction of metal structures.

Gustave Eiffel, who had made a specialty of this new material, had built several metal viaducts. Shortly before the beginning of the construction of the tower he had realized for Auguste Bartholdi the internal structure of the Statue of Liberty, in 1886.

Other fields are studied, and many applications result: The properties of radioactivity, vaccines, acoustics, etc. An author like Jules Verne, with a fertile imagination and distant vision, imagines the future inventions that we know that many of them were actually manufactured. But if medical inventions are not impressive to see, while very useful, the industry can show its expertise on a large scale. This shows the 300m tower planted in the heart of Paris, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, or the proliferation of large factories in Northern Europe.


Main inventions of the late nineteenth century

  1. 1876: The four-stroke engine (Gottlieb Daimler, Nikolaus Otto, Maybach)
  2. 1876: The typewriter (Philo Remington)
  3. 1876: The phone (Graham Bell)
  4. 1877: The phonograph (Charles Cros, in France, then Thomas Edison, in the United States)
  5. 1879: The incandescent lamp (Thomas Edison)
  6. 1879: The electric locomotive (Werner von Siemens)
  7. 1881: The steam car (Amédée Bollée)
  8. 1882: The photographic rifle (Etienne Jules Marey)
  9. 1882: Electric Lighting (New York)
  10. 1884: The tank stylist (Lewis Edson Waterman)
  11. 1885: The vaccine against rabies (Louis Pasteur)
  12. 1886: The electric street lights (in Paris)
  13. 1887: Beginning of the construction of the Eiffel Tower.
  14. 1888: Electromagnetic waves (Heinrich Hertz)
  15. 1889: The photographic film (George Eastman)
  16. 1889: End of the construction of the Eiffel Tower.
  17. 1890: The plane "l'Éole" (Clement Ader)
  18. 1890: The steam vehicle (Leon Serpollet).
  19. 1890: Chronophotography (Etienne Jules Marey)
  20. 1891: Removable tires (Edouard Michelin)
  21. 1892: The Optical Theater (Émile Reynaud, at the Musée Grévin).
  22. 1892: The diesel engine (Otto Diesel)
  23. 1895: The cinematograph (Lumière brothers)
  24. 1895: The X-rays (Wilhelm Röntgen)
  25. 1896: Radioactivity (Henri Becquerel)
  26. 1897: Transmission by wireless telegraphy (Edouard Branly and Guglielmo Marconi)
  27. 1898: The first telegraphic link between the Pantheon and the Eiffel Tower (Eugène Ducretet and Ernest Roger).
  28. 1898: Radium (Pierre and Marie Curie)
  29. 1900: The Paris Metro
  30. 1900: The airship (Von Zeppelin)
  31. 1902: The chronophone, ancestor of the talking cinema (Léon Gaumont)
  32. 1903: The biplane (Wright brothers)
  33. 1904: The telegraphic connections from the Eiffel Tower, under the direction of Captain Ferrié.
  34. 1915: Sonar (Paul Langevin)


See also:

History of the Eiffel tower




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