When will the leaning tower of Pisa fall over? (Thinkstock)
When will the leaning tower of Pisa fall over?
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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. It was kind of like quicksand, basically.

It took hundreds of years of fits and starts to complete the building. Architects tried 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. That was 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 it lists at a comfortable and picturesque 4 degrees. The tower is in no immediate risk of toppling.

Unless theres a massive earthquake. Or a 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?


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COMMENTS (84)
  • Ariannar103
    6/10/2015 - 09:48 p.m.

    I never really thought to ask when the leaning tower of Pisa would fall over. Now that I heard the question it started making me wonder if it could fall. The people who built this building were really smart to be able to find a way to fix their mistake and make the Tower Of Pisa sturdier.

  • MichaelaJ-3
    6/10/2015 - 11:31 p.m.

    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. I do believe that the tower will adventually tilts so much, it will fall over. This is because of gravity.

  • CameronK-3
    6/11/2015 - 01:10 a.m.

    The Tower of Piza first started construction in 1173, and it has been leaning since then. The people who built it, built it on a quicksand-like mixture of clay, mud, and sand. By the 1990s, the tower was leaning at 5.5 degrees south. Fortunately, a quick thinker thought of digging soil for the north side of the building, so that's what they did. The tower began to right itself out. I found this article interesting because I found it neat that a tower that tall could be leaning for such a long time.

  • Chloes-Pav
    6/11/2015 - 09:55 a.m.

    Wow I can't believe that it won't fall over. It is kind of amazing that a tilting tower won't fall over unless there is a natural disaster which is possible.

  • Lindsaya-Pav
    6/11/2015 - 09:56 a.m.

    I hope the Leaning Tower of Pisa doesn't fall any time soon! Although it is past the point of lean where it would fall, everyone is very anxious. This architecture is truly amazing and it would be shame if it fell.

  • LaurenT-5
    6/11/2015 - 09:59 a.m.

    This article is about when the Leaning Tower of Pisa will eventually fall over. When it was built in 1173 , wile constructing the third level, the tower just began to tilt. The foundation was made of clay sand and dirt, basically quicksand. Many, even thousands, tried to fix the shape of the tower. Engineer tried ad they couldn't even fix it by adding different weight proportions. That just gave the tower a "banana" shaped look, which no one wanted. IN the 1990s, people decided it was smart to take some soil from the bottom and it soon tilted more north. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is far from collapsing, unless a tornado or a massive earthquake. I thought this article was very interesting to read about.

  • Annamariea-Pav
    6/11/2015 - 10:01 a.m.

    I think that when the Leaning Tower of Pisa falls, it will affect Italy and the communities around it. This is because it has been around for so long, which is really interesting, and is part of Italy's history.

  • pp2000boa
    6/11/2015 - 01:01 p.m.

    I wonder what it'll take for the tower to fall or collapse? Since Italy is near the ocean, either a hurricane/Tsunami would, I don't see how all these years, it hasn't fallen to any natural disaster.

  • DD00BASEBALL
    6/11/2015 - 01:04 p.m.

    I think it's fascinating how the Leaning Tower of Pisa has not fallen over yet and that it leans how it does. Let's hope there isn't an earthquake or anything to make it crumble up.

  • GD2000marinecorp
    6/11/2015 - 01:07 p.m.

    The other objects that have the similar shape is the moon in the crescent shape and a croissant. And also have a very nice day.

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