Gustave Eiffel

Gustave EiffelOn this day in 1832, the great architect Gustave Eiffel was born. He was also a civil engineer. And then after he retired, he did significant work in meteorology and fluid dynamics. Of course, we just know him because of of the tower named after him that he designed for the 1889 Universal Exposition.

Before the tower, he was best known for his bridges. And beautiful things they were. His first bridge was a small one — 22 meters — for the Saint Germaine railway. This was when he was still in his early twenties. This lead to his first major design, the half kilometer Bordeaux bridge.

In his mid-thirties, he started the company Eiffel et Cie, with fellow engineer Théophile Seyrig. Their first project together was to build the Budapest-Nyugati train station, which showed Eiffel’s fondness for exposed structure:

Budapest-Nyugati train station

And next came the exquisite Maria Pia railway bridge:

Maria Pia railway bridge

Before building his famous tower, Eiffel was very important in the building of the Statue of Liberty. The original engineer, Viollet-le-Duc, died after completing the head and arm. So it was left to Eiffel’s team to figure out how to make the whole thing fit together. Obviously, it wasn’t his design, of course. I figure you don’t need to see a picture of the Statue of Liberty or the Eiffel Tower. Although if you click over the Wikipedia, there is a nice collection of images showing the tower’s construction.

He continued to design and build major works into the late 1890s — all over the world. And then he retired and worked on some important applied science. He lived to the ripe old age of 91.

Happy birthday Gustave Eiffel!

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