Monday, Feb. 27, 2012
Feb. 27, 1964, with the Leaning Tower of Pisa deemed susceptible to collapse in the event of a natural disaster, the Italian government announces a request for suggestions to save the famous landmark. At the time, the tower is hanging approximately 17 feet over its base. As a temporary solution, an 880-ton counterweight is installed. A much more extensive soil extraction project lasting from 1990 to 2001 is needed before the tower is declared sturdy and safe. Construction on the tower initially began in August 1173, but was not finished until 1370. From the very start the tower has a noticeable lean that becomes more prominent over the years. Modern research has determined that the tower’s lean is caused by the remains of an ancient river estuary located below the structure.
Today, as a result of the soil extraction project, the Tower of Pisa only leans by about 1.5 feet, or 3.97 degrees (compared to almost 6 degrees before the renovation), meaning it no longer has the honor of being the world’s farthest leaning tower, or even near the top of the list. The question of what tower is legitimately entitled to the distinction is the subject of debate. The two current front-runners are the tower in St. Moritz, Switzerland, with a 5.364-degree lean, and a tower connected to a church in the village of Suurhusen, in northern Germany that leans 5.19 degrees as measured in 2007.