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What Material Was the Eiffel Tower Built With?

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The Eiffel Tower is one of the most recognizable structures in the world. Built as the centerpiece of the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris, and to mark the hundredth anniversary of the French Revolution, the Tower was recognized as an architectural marvel of its time, and became a Paris icon. For 41 years, it was the tallest artificial structure on Earth, until New York City’s Chrysler Building surpassed it in 1930.

So what material is this remarkable structure made out of? The answer is simple: iron. Why was iron chosen over other materials available at the time? Read on to find out.

Why Iron Was Chosen as a Building Material

Architect Gustave Eiffel and his engineers knew that metal was their only realistic option to erect a structure more than 1000 feet (81 stories) high.

  • Wood was impractical for a number of reasons. The amount required would’ve been astronomical, the structure would’ve collapsed under its own weight, and the tower would’ve been subject to weathering and rot.
  • Stone was more durable, but still not strong enough to support a structure of that size, which also would’ve collapsed.

That left two options: iron and steel. Either could’ve done the job, but Eiffel chose iron since he was familiar with it from previous construction projects.

Puddle Iron

The type of iron used in the Eiffel Tower’s construction is called puddle iron. This was a technique used to convert pig iron to wrought iron suitable for molding and shaping. The brittle pig iron was poured into a furnace, hence the term “puddling,” and stirred in an oxidizing environment. This process removed free carbon from the pig iron and left it as a purer element, stronger and ready to be shaped by a blacksmith.

Puddle iron was commonly used in 19th century construction projects. Today, it is considered obsolete, the puddling process having been replaced by the Bessemer process to produce steel and wrought iron.

The metalworking and welding experts at HB Fab Co in Long Beach, Orange County, and Los Angeles know exactly what type of material is suitable for any project. Whether you need fences, gates, balconies, window grilles, or specialty projects, we can deliver with top quality craftsmanship. Contact us to tell us about your project’s needs.

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