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The Leaning Tower of Pisa



The Leaning Tower of Pisa
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   8.11

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    archrivals, free-standing, inclination, unintentional, standing, tantalizing, re-opened, dictator, best, regional, urgency, excavation, prior, city-states, powerhouse, removal
     content words:    Leaning Tower, Andrea Pisano, Benito Mussolini


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The Leaning Tower of Pisa
By Vickie Chao
  

1     The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a beautiful building. There is no doubt about it! Yet this free-standing bell tower for the cathedral nearby would not have attracted so much attention if it had not tilted to one side. Was the leaning actually part of the design? No, it wasn't. The building's weak foundation and the type of ground it stands on are the root causes for its inclination. The flaw, as it turns out, is one of the best things that ever happened to Pisa. For without it, the city might never have had a tourism boom.
 
2     The Pisans began construction of the tower on August 9, 1173. To this day, we do not know who the original architect was. We only know that the project had to be halted twice, and it took them more than 200 years to complete the whole thing. The first disruption occurred probably around 1178. At that time, Italy was not a united country. Rather, it was split into many small city-states. Since all of them wanted to be the regional powerhouse, they constantly waged war against each other. Pisa, of course, was no exception. Its main archrivals then were Genoa, Lucca, and Florence.
 
3     Given that the Pisans were busy fighting, they had few resources to spare to continue the construction of the tower. By then, they had already completed the first three floors and they noticed right away that the structure was not standing straight. It was leaning to the south. But they did not correct the problem. They simply put the project on hold so they could focus on warfare. The unintentional delay was actually a critical factor as to why the Leaning Tower of Pisa is still standing today. That was because it gave time for the underlying soil to settle. Had the Pisans not suspended the project, the building might have already toppled a long time ago.

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