When will the leaning tower of Pisa fall over? (Thinkstock)
When will the leaning tower of Pisa fall over?
Lexile

You asked us, When will the leaning tower of Pisa fall over?

Pretty much since the first stone was laid, the tower of Pisa in Italy has been a Keystone Kops version of architecture.

Not long after construction began in 1173, when builders reached the third story, the thing began to tilt.

Theyd cleverly built it on a foundation of mud, sand and clay kind of like quicksand, basically.

It took hundreds of years of fits and starts to complete the building, with architects trying columns of different heights to even out the lean which of course made things worse. And giving the tower a bit of an interesting, how should we say, banana shape.

As late as 1935, engineers managed to do exactly the wrong thing to try to shore up the tower.

By the 1990s, it was tilting 5.5 degrees to the south just past the point at which it was supposed to collapse catastrophically.

Finally, someone figured out that it might help to just gently remove some of the soil from under the north side of the building, away from the list and lo and behold if the good ship Pisa didnt start to right itself.

Now listing at a comfortable and picturesque 4 degrees, the tower is in no immediate risk of toppling.

Unless theres a massive earthquake or giant or tornado or meteorite or something.

For more stories like this, check us out every day at Smithsonian.com.

Critical thinking challenge: The author compares the tower to the shape of a banana. Which other objects have a similar shape?


Assigned 23 times


COMMENTS (10)
  • NW2000Bball
    6/10/2015 - 08:35 a.m.

    I think this is an interesting question. Especially since it can fall any minute if it is really leaning like it looks to be. I think that this tower will not fall anytime soon.

  • BrigitteA-3
    6/10/2015 - 12:56 p.m.

    In 1173, architects began to build the tower of Pisa in Italy on a foundation of sand, mud, and clay. Once they started to begin working on the third story, the tower began to tilt. After hundreds of years of arguing, construction resumed on the tower in order to complete it. By 1995, the tower was tilted at an age of 5.5 degrees (a dangerous point at which it should have collapsed.) Now the tower lies at a comfortable 4 degrees tilt but is at no risk of collapsing. I think that it would be very cool to visit the famous leaning tower of Pisa and to visit Italy as well.

  • Julian10
    6/11/2015 - 12:15 p.m.

    The Pisa tower was built in 1173 and it baciaclly was built on quicksand. It started leaning when they hit the third floor. The tower wont collapse unless there in a earthquake or tornado. In 1990 it was leaning at 5.5 degrees. Also they replaced some of the old soil and put more fresh soil.

  • katiemay11
    6/11/2015 - 01:01 p.m.

    I was always interested in the leaning tower of Pisa. It was always a question in my mind, if the tower would fall over and now I know it won't unless there is an earthquake or another disaster. I also wanted to know how tall the leaning tower of Pisa was. So I researched and found out it is 183 feet tall and it has 7 floors.

  • jaacklahaye52
    6/11/2015 - 01:09 p.m.

    Wow, I never really put thought of the tower to fall. Have you ever wonder what man made tower leans the most in the world? Well it is not the leaning tower of Pisa if you are thinking that. It is Capital Gate. Capital Gate leans at 18 degrees to the west. The leaning tower of Pisa leans at 4 degrees. Capital Gates leans more 4 times more then the leaning tower of Pisa

  • CapeleyZ-1
    6/11/2015 - 05:36 p.m.

    This article was about when the leaning tower of Pisa will collapse. Not long after construction started on the tower, in 1173, it began to tilt. It took hundreds of years to complete the building. After it began to majorly tilt, people decided to keep moving the soil. We keep doing this so it won't fall until a natural disaster. I think this is cool.

  • CTiffani-Cas
    6/12/2015 - 11:31 a.m.

    The author compares the tower to the shape of a banana. Another object that has a similar shape is a telephone or a crescent moon.

  • ARany-Cas
    6/18/2015 - 11:29 a.m.

    The author compares the tower to the shape of a banana. Which other objects have a similar shape?
    Another shape is a moon or a crescent moon

  • william1108-yyca
    7/01/2015 - 01:50 p.m.

    The leaning tower of Pisa is amazing. the tower looks like it is about to fall. Maybe next time I should see is it is going to fall down since it is leaning.

  • alyssak-day
    10/21/2015 - 02:04 p.m.

    TT:11
    I find this very interesting. Its an important question that can seriously effect people. If the tower were to fall it would be a loss to Italy's history and it would be very dangerous. But building a tower that is leaning has to be expected to fall. If Italy has just one earthquake, the entire thing will come tumbling down. However, i highly doubt that this will happen anytime soon.

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