A Piece of the Eiffel Tower's Original Staircase Is Going Up for Auction

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (left) stands on the Eiffel Tower staircase in this 1889 photo.
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (left) stands on the Eiffel Tower staircase in this 1889 photo.
General Photographic Agency/Getty Images

Snapping a photo of the Eiffel Tower at night is a must for tourists visiting Paris (even if it is technically illegal), but if you want a little something extra to remember the historic landmark by, why not take a piece of it home with you? As CNN reports, a section of la Tour Eiffel’s original staircase is being sold today by French auction house Artcurial.

The artifact will likely set you back some $40,0000 to $60,000 according to early estimates, but then again, many would consider it a priceless piece of history. The 25-step spiral staircase stands at about 13 feet tall and was part of the stairway that connected the second and third levels of the tower, which was built by French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris Exposition. The stairway remained in place until 1983, when it was replaced by elevators.

Considering that the Eiffel Tower stands 1063 feet tall (including the antenna on top) and has a total of 1710 steps (visitors can only climb the roughly 700 steps leading to the first and second platforms), the spiral staircase is a relatively small part of the overall structure. Nonetheless, its architectural and historical significance have made it a valuable artifact. The original staircase was divided into 24 sections, some of which were sent off to different institutions.

A couple sections of the staircase are on view at two Paris museums—the Musée d'Orsay and the Science and Industry Museum—while another piece can be found near the Statue of Liberty in New York City.

Other pieces were auctioned off to private collectors. In 2013, a section of staircase measuring more than 11 feet tall was snapped up for $249,000, and in 2016 another piece sold for $593,000—which makes the estimates on the current piece seem like a steal. 

[h/t CNN]

Shanghai Is Now Home to the World’s Longest 3D-Printed Bridge

World's largest 3D-printed bridge in Shanghai, China.
World's largest 3D-printed bridge in Shanghai, China.
Tsinghua University

Small items like toys and shoes aren't the only things 3D printers can make. As a team of architects from China's Tsinghua University School of Architecture recently demonstrated, the machines can be used to print sturdy bridges large enough to span waterways.

As dezeen reports, at 86 feet in length, the new pedestrian bridge on a canal in Shanghai's Baoshan District is the longest 3D-printed bridge on Earth. Designed by the university's Zoina Land Joint Research Center for Digital Architecture (JCDA) and constructed by Shanghai Wisdom Bay Investment Management Company, it consists of 176 concrete units. The parts were printed from two robotic-arm 3D-printing systems over 19 days.

The 3D-printing technology cut down on costs as well as construction time. According to Tsinghua University, the project cost just two-thirds of what it would have using conventional materials and engineering methods.

Even though their approach was futuristic, the architecture team paid homage to a much older bridge in a different part of the country. The new bridge's arched structure is inspired by that of the 1400-year-old Anji Bridge in Zhaoxian, the oldest standing bridge in China (and the world's oldest open-spandrel arch bridge).

The bridge in Shanghai may be the longest 3D-printed bridge in the world, but it isn't the first. Last year, a 3D-printed steel bridge was unveiled in Amsterdam.

[h/t dezeen]

A Clue on the Ceiling of Grand Central Terminal Shows How Dirty It Was 30 Years Ago

iStock.com/undercrimson
iStock.com/undercrimson

The mural above the concourse at Grand Central Terminal is one of the most gawked-at ceilings in New York City, but even daily commuters may have missed a peculiar feature. Tucked at the edge of the green and gold constellations is a rectangular black mark. The apparent blemish didn't get there by mistake: As Gothamist explains in its new series WHY?, it was left there by restorers when the ceiling was cleaned more than 20 years ago.

Prior to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's renovation of Grand Central in the 1990s, the concourse was a lot dirtier. The station itself was constructed in Manhattan in the early 1900s, and the celestial scene that's on the ceiling today was painted there in the 1940s. It took only a few decades for tobacco smoke and other pollutants to stain the mural so badly that it needed to be restored.

Using Simple Green-brand cleaning solution and cotton rags, conservators spent two years scrubbing nearly every inch of the ceiling back to its former glory; the one part they skipped was a 9-inch-by-18-inch patch in the northwest corner. Sometimes, when doing a major cleaning project, preservationists will leave a small sample of the art or artifact untouched. If the cleaning products did any damage to the paint, the patch gives future preservationists something to compare it to. It also acts as a snapshot of what the mural looked like in its old condition.

To hear more about the mural and its dirty secret, watch the video from Gothamist below.

[h/t Gothamist]

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