VIDEO – “Eiffel” at the cinema: we tell you the little story of a big tower

In theaters October 13, Eiffel by Martin Bourboulon, with Romain Duris and Emma Mackey, takes the viewer behind the scenes of the genesis of the Eiffel Tower. Built in 1889 in just two years, the Iron Lady hardly ever saw the light of day …

It all began in 1884, Jules Ferry, then President of the Council, decided that France was going to organize a new Universal Exhibition. A year chosen to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution. We are therefore looking for attractions to symbolize industrial renewal. The idea? Build a 300-meter tower, and pass the Washington Monument, the 169-meter obelisk of the US capital.

A 300-meter tower made of metal and iron

In 1886, a competition was organized and saw an influx of hundreds of projects. That of Gustave Eiffel wins hands down the votes. At the time, the engineer is known for having built the framework of the Statue of Liberty, but especially the Garabit viaduct in Cantal.

However, the contractor does not draw the plans for the tower that bears his name, but uses those of two of his engineers, Maurice Koechlin and Émile Nouguier, whose project had not convinced him at the start. What is it about ? A 300-meter tower entirely in metal and more precisely in iron.

Initially, many voices are raised against its construction: “Hollow candlestick “ Or “unsightly skeleton “, shall we say of the Iron Lady. We consider that this tower will disfigure Paris, but the project ends up convincing.

And 250 workers then embarked on its construction for two years, two months and five days. On March 31, 1889, the famous Eiffel Tower was inaugurated and established itself as a real technical feat.

While it is initially intended to be demolished 20 years later, Gustave Eiffel will make his tower an asset for science. He proposes to use his exceptional height for physics experiments. But it is above all its antenna and its radio and telecommunications transmissions that will save it forever… An emblematic monument of Paris, it is today one of the most photographed monuments in the world.

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