The Eiffel Tower
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Almost from the very opening of the Eiffel Tower for the 1889 Exposition Universelle, visitors could access the floors of the monument by taking the lifts. A veritable technical triumph for the time, as never before had the limits of such heights and loads been broken, the lifts offered hundreds of thousands of visitors the possibility to securely climb the Tower to embrace the whole of Paris.
Perhaps today the lift seems an everyday facility, but at the time it was a real achievement.
The elevators at the time of construction
Between the ground floor and the second floor : The four pillars were equipped with one or two cabins.
In June 1889, five hydraulic elevators went into operation. This initial elevator technology was further modernized a decade later by Gustave Eiffel for the Universal Exposition of 1900.
Between the the second and third floor : An "Edoux" elevator was put into service, a hydraulic machine that was the only one of its type in the world, with jacks 80 meters long. (It was dismounted in 1983).
North and South pillars : "Otis" elevators carried the visitors up and down until dismounted in 1910.
East and West pillars : : "Roux-Combaluzier" elevators were in service until 1897.
The elevators today
North pillar :
South pillar :
East and West pillars :
Between the second and third floor :
A Simple Yet Brilliant Mechanism!”
The passenger cabin is carried by a cab attached to cables, and is kept level by a recovery system. Underground, a hydraulic system sets 2 pistons in motion, which generate level movements for a cab.
Operating diagram of the 1899 machinerie
Begun in October 2008, the work on the western lift will be concluded in 2012. The same renovation will then be carried out on the eastern lift. It is a long process for the teams, which vary from 10 to 45 people, representing many building trades.
A Unique Prototype
Since 1899, these lifts have been a mechanism unrivalled by anywhere in the world. They are neither lifts in the traditional sense, nor a funicular system, nor cable-cars. They do not belong to any category and do not correspond to any current reference. This machinery from more than a century ago must therefore be adapted to today’s security criteria. Even if the principal mechanics of the lifts with their lift drive piston and system of pulleys are preserved, everything will change! They will have to replace the cab, the cab platform, the rail mounting of the platform, the hydraulic system, and the electric ropes.
Why this Modernisation of the Original Lifts ?
Quite apart from a necessary compliance with current regulations, the objective of the modernisation is to improve performance of this historical equipment and to optimise their maintenance conditions.
Technology Dedicated to Durable Development
As the Tower’s modernity must go hand in hand with longevity and durability, the SETE (Société d’Exploitation de la tour Eiffel), or Tower Operating Company, favoured a solution to respect its heritage. It will enable the return to the principle of water hydraulics that the engineers had initially designed in 1899, at the same time reinforcing the introduction of the automatic system. Respecting its policy of durable development, and in order to contribute to limiting the monument’s carbon footprint, the SETE has held to a principle of renovation that presents several advantages: