Since the opening of the Eiffel Tower for the Universal Exhibition of 1889, visitors have been able to visit the different floors of the monument via elevators. A formidable technical feat for the period as never before had engineers tackled such constraints of height and elevator loads. These elevators have offered total security to hundreds of thousands of visitors climbing the Tower for a better glimpse of Paris from its very beginning. Although today we may take these elevators for granted, back then they were considered a great technical achievement. Certain elevators from the early days of the Tower’s existence are still operative; preserved with great care, they attest to the technical heritage that genius and visionary Gustave Eiffel contributed to our present day.
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, ive 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: A “Schneider” electric elevator was installed in 1965, modernized between the years 1994 and 1995 and then revised again in 1997. Its speed reducer was changed in 2004.
• South pillar: An “Otis” electric elevator has been used exclusively by customers of the Jules Verne restaurant since 1983. Also in service, a 4-ton freight elevator built in 1989 was revised in 2003 and then in 2007.
• East and West pillars: “Fives-Lille” hydraulic elevators were installed in 1899, modernized in 1986 and 1987, and revised in 1992, 1995 and 2005. In 2008, the major project of totally replacing the West pillar elevators began, with the intention of coming back to the original and simple functioning machines imagined by Gustave Eiffel in collaboration with the Fives-Lille company in 1899. The public has an opportunity to discover the historical elevator equipment in a guided visit during the yearly open house event celebrating European Heritage. Enter into a true Jules Verne universe, into the center of the Tower, where all those surprising machines are in action.
• Between the the second and third floor: the “Edoux” hydraulic elevator did not function in winter (the gel stopped the machinery from working) and was dismounted in 1983. The hydraulic pump that fed the machine with water is now on display on the irst floor of the Tower. Two double-cabin electric elevators by Duolift-Otis were installed in 1983, replaced by new ones in 1994 and 1995, and
then revised in 2007. The elevators are vital to the monument and subject to some harsh treatment. Their annual journeys combined are equal to two and half times around the world or more than 103,000
kilometers. The cabins, the electrical and computer systems, along with the historical machinery behind the elevators receive the greatest care and maintenance: renovation work, repairs, parts replaced and oiled. They are constantly checked by technicians, who start them up early in the morning before the public arrives
and keep them under close surveillance whenever the Tower is open to the public. Eiffel Tower elevator operators handle the smooth lux of visitors.