The Leaning Tower of Pisa
June 19, 2001 11:13 AM   Subscribe

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is safe for now. 11 years of rescue operations have ended with the tower stable for what experts hope will be about 300 years. The tower's new lean is about what it would have been in 1838.
posted by jammer (10 comments total)
Thanks to the help of these two. Actually, I'm glad to see this finally finished. But will it really last 300 years??
posted by jdiaz at 11:27 AM on June 19, 2001

This is great news, and it's great to hear that people will be allowed back inside. I climbed to the top when I was 9, back in 1970, and I remember a beautiful view of the city. But when you first get to the top you feell as if you're going to roll off of leans THAT much! I remember hanging onto some metal pipe, with tears streaming out of my eyes, but I'm glad to have had the opportunity to be there. Still, to this day I get to blame my vertigo on my parents!
posted by Sal Amander at 12:46 PM on June 19, 2001

posted by jpoulos at 1:06 PM on June 19, 2001

I've always been fascinated by engineering failures and challenges, and Pisa is one example I've paid close attention to. There was an excellent report on public TV's NOVA back in 1999.

What's amazing is that they've eliminated 160 years of tilt but you can't tell from looking. As Burland says, this should be good barring a strong earthquake (which can't be ruled out). I'm concerned about liquefaction of the soil ... I wonder what the technical estimates are before it's considered to be as stable as it was before the extraction process began.

Amazing in another way is that the notoriously irresolute Italian government was able to step in and get this done. Beginning with the Pavia tower collapse, and continuing with other damage such as the earthquake near Florence that collapsed a church (an aftershock, it unfortunately engulfed several people inspecting the nave for damage). There has been a real sense of urgency develop in relation to these restoration efforts.

The saddest aspect of this is the number of times that the tower's lean was increased by ignorant efforts, including as recently as 1985. As a result I don't think we can feel completely confident on this matter yet.
posted by dhartung at 1:41 PM on June 19, 2001

I'm not sure if I should MeTa this, but let's not, taking the path of least resistance...:
Thanks jpoulos, somehow that was very refreshing. Nice idea, perfect execution.
*holds up a '10' sign*
posted by fvw at 2:37 PM on June 19, 2001

If they can un-lean it to where it was in 1838, why not straighten it all the way back up?
posted by kindall at 3:53 PM on June 19, 2001

And while they're at it, maybe they can glue new arms on to the Venus di Milo.
posted by crunchland at 4:09 PM on June 19, 2001

If they can un-lean it to where it was in 1838, why not straighten it all the way back up?

Because the building was actually built bent, it started to lean before it was even finished. Of course, it probably wouldn't be a tourist attraction if it was completely straightened.
posted by lagado at 5:32 PM on June 19, 2001

that was one of the points that was made on the aforementioned nova episode...straight towers do not a tourist attraction make. Though as you point out the top level would be actually leaning the other way if the bottom were straightened to vertical, so....
posted by DiplomaticImmunity at 8:30 PM on June 19, 2001

The Telegraph also has a good graphic covering the history of and current work on the tower. It's part of an older article that also talks about the stabilisation of Big Ben.
posted by chrismear at 10:44 PM on June 19, 2001

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