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The workers' plaza of the Eiffel Tower inaugurated in tribute to those who built it


WE WERE THERE - The “sky carpenters” built the Iron Lady between January 1887 and March 1889. On Wednesday, Anne Hidalgo unveiled the plaque in the square which pays them homage under the monument. The denomination was voted 10 years ago by the Council of Paris.

Tourists crowd around the glass wall (and armored), which has closed the site of the Eiffel Tower since 2018. The desk installed in an area surrounded by a red ribbon signals the inauguration to the curious.

On Wednesday October 27, the Paris town hall paid tribute to the 250 workers who built the Iron Lady, 324 meters high.

From now on, the Esplanade des Ouvriers de la Tour Eiffel will recall that, for 795 days, that is to say 2 years 2 months and 5 days, from January 1887 to March 1889, the workers of the Eiffel engineer bowed down, even risked their life, so that the monument may spring up.

Read alsoThe giant pedestrianization project from the Eiffel Tower to the Trocadero stirs up anger

The guests are standing, bundled up in their long winter coats.

More than a century after its construction, the granddaughter of one of the celebrated, 90-year-old Maria Luisa Provini, is seated in a folding chair.

With the mayor of the 7th arrondissement, Rachida Dati, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of heritage, Karen Taïeb and Jean-François Martins, president of the company operating the Eiffel Tower (SETE) are gathered some - some of the descendants of these “sky carpenters”.

Half of the workers were in the workshops of Levallois, to manufacture the 18,000 parts - of about 5 meters each - which make up the building.


The heart of this pharaonic enterprise lies in the use of 2.5 million rivets, which hold the iron structure together.

If two-thirds were installed in the workshop using machines, the others will be on site, especially at altitude.

To do this, teams of four men are assembled.

One to heat the rivet, one to hold it in place, one to form the head, one last to complete the crushing with a sledgehammer.

All, whether it hails or sells.

The 117 riveters and "chimney sweeps" selected for this task will have to face the freezing cold of the winters of 1888 and 1889, as well as the summer of 1888 when the thermometer rose to 40 degrees.

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Gustave Eiffel's great-great-grandson, Savin Yeatman-Eiffel, invites the assembly to immerse themselves in the era of construction. At the end of the 19th century, the engineer could hardly count on anything other than the labor power of his workers, even if the steam engines were able to come to his aid in certain situations. The parts, assembled over the months, weighed about three tons. The aerial assembly could last up to four hours at a stretch. Wounded, there will be at the top of the tower, even if, officially, no death is to be deplored. Except this Italian worker, Angelo Scagliotti, who fell outside working hours and whose widow was discreetly compensated by Gustave Eiffel, according to the monument site.

My great-grandfather would never have imagined the honor you do him

Élisabeth Morisson-Provini, great-granddaughter of Pietro Provini, one of the workers of the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel workers did not accept the perilous working conditions without flinching. A first strike broke out in September 1888, the protesters demanding a salary increase. Eiffel accedes to their claim. But two months later, in December, these “voltigeurs” rebelled again. This time, the engineer does not give in but promises a gratuity of 100 francs for any worker who would finish the construction.

"Was Gustave Eiffel a social boss?"

, asks Karen Taïeb, whose turn it is to speak. The Socialist deputy then recalls the establishment of canteens on the 1st, first, then on the 2nd floor of the tower:

"Hot meals were served there, but wine and beer were prohibited there."

The great-granddaughter of one of the celebrated workers, Élisabeth Morisson-Provini, walks up to the desk. His grandfather was an Italian immigrant, Pietro Provini, who arrived in France at the age of 15. When he was hired on this futuristic site, he worked with dozens of workers who spoke little or no French. His story, Provini told his descendants, happy to have contributed to the greatness of the country that had welcomed him.

“My great-grandfather would never have imagined the honor you are doing him


says Elisabeth, moved. Her mother, Maria Luisa, joined her, not without difficulty, on the makeshift platform.

"Grazie alla Francia che ci ha accolti!"

("Thank you to France who welcomed us"), she launches, tremolos in her voice.

Ten years of waiting

The new name was voted in July 2011 by the Council of Paris, on the proposal of Karen Taïeb, at the time a simple municipal councilor.

Between the choice of location, the administrative formalities and the Covid-19 pandemic, it took ten years for the name to be finally attributed.

The assistant is proud of it.

“I had this idea while reading a comic book about the construction of the Eiffel Tower.

I asked myself: "How did we not pay tribute to these men?" "She

exclaims to

Le Figaro


“This tower would never have been possible without them.

They were essential and I'm sure Gustave Eiffel thought the same. "

It was pointed out to him that few Parisians will have the opportunity to come and admire the new square, given the difficulties in accessing the monument since the bullet-proof palisade was put in place.

She recognizes it but

"hopes that one will say, during the fireworks of July 14," live from the Esplanade of the workers of the Eiffel Tower ""


Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-10-28

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