Gustave Eiffel: 5 Things To Know About The Famous Engineer

Even though his name is eternally linked to this Parisian monument, Gustave Eiffel is not only the father of the Eiffel Tower! Here are 5 things you may not know about this genius French engineer and industrialist, who died just 100 years ago, in December 1923.

1- His first project was a railway bridge in Bordeaux

Before setting up his own company and building monuments around the world, Gustave Eiffel directed the construction of the St. Jean railway bridge in Bordeaux from 1858 to 1860.

This central engineer was only 26 years old when he was entrusted with the management of the works for the construction of this 510 m bridge spanning the Garonne. This construction site allowed him to experiment with a series of innovations and to make a name for himself in the world of metal construction.

This first success brings him the recognition that will later allow him to set up the Eiffel company and collaborate with great engineers around the world.

2- It is a bridge in Portugal that has ensured its international reputation

It was another bridge located on the municipality of Porto in Portugal that allowed Gustave Eiffel to establish his international fame from 1877.

The Maria Pia Bridge is a large metal arch railway viaduct designed by the Eiffel company and inaugurated in November 1877. At the time, this structure of more than 350 m long was the first railway bridge to join the two banks of the Douro.

This achievement brought great fame to the French engineer because his bridge was both light and inexpensive. This bridge also inspired the brilliant engineer to build the Garabit viaduct, which looks very similar to it.

But above all, it was following this project that the French government decided to commission Gustave Eiffel, without a call for tenders, to build a monument to celebrate the centenary of the French Revolution: the Eiffel Tower!

3- He worked on the Statue of Liberty

Of course, Gustave Eiffel's name is forever associated with the Eiffel Tower in Paris... But did you know that the French engineer also participated in the construction of another world-famous monument?

One of the 5 notable facts in his career is his participation in the construction of Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty. Although it was another Frenchman, Auguste Bartholdi, who envisioned the famous New York monument, the Eiffel Company created the internal structure of the statue. It was indeed necessary to create a metal frame in order to support the copper plates that make up Liberty Enlightening the World.

To erect this monumental statue, 93 m high in total, Eiffel's contribution was decisive. However, Auguste Bartholdi chose not to completely follow the engineer's plans in the arm of the Statue of Liberty.

4- He built bridges and stations all over the world

The Eiffel Tower is far from being Gustave Eiffel's only internationally known achievement. Indeed, the Eiffel workshops have made a name for themselves far beyond the borders of France by building railway bridges and stations all over the world.

The Western Station located in Budapest, Hungary was designed by the engineer himself in 1874.

The Eiffel company was also initiated the Atocha Station in Madrid (built in 1851 as the Gare du Midi). But a fire destroyed its structure. The Madrid-Atocha station that can be admired today as the largest and most beautiful station in Spain was rebuilt from 1888 according to the plans of another engineer, Alberto de Palacio.

5- He even built a cathedral

Lesser known fact, Gustave Eiffel not only built railroad stations, but also created the steelwork for other notable monuments.

For example, he designed the framework of the Saigon Post Office, which was then the capital of French Indochina. This monument, which can still be visited today in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam as a tourist attraction, is contemporary to the Eiffel Tower as it was built between 1886 and 1891.

To conclude, did you know that the Eiffel Company built a cathedral? The Saint Mark's Cathedral of Arica, inaugurated in 1875, is located in northern Chile.

Yet this monument was commissioned by the Peruvian government of Jose Balta because it was originally intended for the Peruvian resort town of Ancon. Finally, the cathedral San Marcos with the remarkable metal frame 'Eiffel' remained in Arica, a few kilometers from the Peruvian border.

Author: Audrey
Copyright image: Portrait de Gustave Eiffel par Nadar
Tags: engineer, Gustave Eiffel, monument, Eiffel Tower, bridge, metal, Liberty, Eiffel company, French, railway bridge, Arica, Portugal, Peruvian, Bordeaux, station, post office, Saigon, Spain, Gare du Midi, Madrid, Hungary, Budapest, capital, French Indochina, resort town, Jose Balta, Peruvian government, Chile, Saint Mark, tourist attraction, Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, Western, France, monumental statue, viaduct, arch, Porto, municipality, Eiffel company, Industrialist, Experiment, Garonne, Douro, Garabit viaduct, French government, copper, New York, Frenchman, Paris,
In French: Gustave Eiffel : 5 choses à savoir sur le célèbre ingénieur
En español: Gustave Eiffel: 5 cosas que hay que saber sobre el famoso ingeniero
In italiano: Gustave Eiffel: 5 cose da sapere sul famoso ingegnere
Auf Deutsch: Gustave Eiffel: 5 Dinge, die man über den berühmten Ingenieur wissen sollte
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