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Gustave Eiffel facts for kids

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Alexandre Gustave Eiffel
Gustave Eiffel 1888 Nadar2.jpg
Born (1832-12-15)December 15, 1832
Died December 27, 1923(1923-12-27) (aged 91)
Rue Rabelais, Paris, France
Nationality French

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (December 15, 1832December 27, 1923) was a French engineer and architect and a specialist of metallic structures. He is famous for designing the Eiffel Tower and the iron framing (armature) for the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor.

Early life

Gustave Eiffel Monument
A monument to Gustave Eiffel at the base of the Eiffel Tower

Eiffel was born in Dijon, Côte-d'Or, France. The name Eiffel was adopted by one of his German ancestors in the early 18th century. The name was taken from his birthplace Marmagen located in the Eifel since the French could not pronounce his actual name, Bönickhausen. His mother's coal business provided more than enough money for the family, so Gustave studied chemistry at the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris. Gustave's plan for after graduation was to take over his uncle's rubber cat-nip mouse factory. However, a family dispute over the quality of the rubber changed his plans. He began working for a company that designed railroad bridges.

Charles Nepveu gave Eiffel a job as one of the many project managers for a bridge for trains (called a railroad bridge) located in France. Many engineers quit during the construction, and Eiffel eventually took charge of the entire project. Nepveu was impressed with Eiffel's work and gave him more jobs. During this time, Eiffel got to know other engineers and made a good impression on them as well.


Tour eiffel at sunrise from the trocadero
The Eiffel Tower at sunrise

Eiffel et Cie., Eiffel's consulting and construction firm, with the support of Belgian engineer Téophile Seyrig, won an international bid to design and build a 525-foot-long (160 m) railroad bridge over the Douro river, between Porto and Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal. The Ponte Maria Pia is a double-hinged arch that supports one line of railroad for a train. Some pillars reinforce the bridge. The bridge was built in less than two years (January 5, 1876November 4, 1877) and was used until 1991.

Gustave Eiffel also designed La Ruche in Paris. This, like the Eiffel Tower, became a city landmark. The only structure in the Americas designed by Eiffel is the lighthouse located on Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The lighthouse was built around 1900 by the United States which gained the island after the end of the Spanish-American War and was used until 1976.

In 1887, the French began a project to build a Panama Canal. Eiffel was hired to build the locks for the system, but the project was not handled properly and ended up failing. The Americans used new lock designs in the canal they built.

In his later years, Eiffel began to study aerodynamics and meteorology. He saw the effect the wind was having on his structures and wanted to know more. He designed a wind tunnel at the base of the Eiffel Tower for his experiments.

Eiffel died on December 27, 1923 in his mansion on Rue Rabelais in Paris. He was buried in the Cimetière de Levallois-Perret.


Edward Moran's 1886 painting, The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, depicts the unveiling of the Statue of Liberty.

The structures that Eiffel designed are important around the world socially, economically, and politically. These structures included bridges, the Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty.

The bridges that he designed were constructed all over the world. The bridges allowed for easier and faster travel and trade in the area in which they were constructed. Many of Eiffel's bridges did not require skilled workers for assembly, which made his bridges a great economical choice.

The Eiffel Tower had a huge impact on France. The tower was the main attraction of the World's Fair in 1889 and drew millions of people to Paris. Nearly two million people visited the Eiffel Tower in 1889 alone. The tower quickly became a tourist attraction and brought large amounts of money into France's economy. After originally being thought of as an eyesore (it was designed to be torn down easily after the end of the Fair), the tower quickly became a national symbol of France and brought a sense of pride to the people who lived there.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States. Eiffel's design for the metal frame of the statue allowed for the statue to become a reality. The statue showed the friendship and respect that was shared between France and the United States. The Statue of Liberty quickly became a national symbol of freedom in the United States and gave citizens a sense of pride. The statue became a great tourist attraction and brought many people to New York, boosting their economy. Several Americans living in France were pleased by the gift to their country and in turn, built a ¼ scale bronze model which stands about 1.24 miles (2 km) north of the Eiffel Tower.

Gustav Eiffel quotes

  • "She is more famous than I am." (Eiffel was referring to the Statue of Liberty.)
  • "Can one think that because we are engineers, beauty does not preoccupy us or that we do not try to build beautiful, as well as solid and long lasting structures?"
  • "The French flag is the only one to have a staff a thousand feet tall." (Eiffel was referring to the flag at the top of the Eiffel Tower).

Interesting facts about Gustav Eiffel

  • Eiffel's full name was Alexandre Gustave Bonickhausen dit Eiffel.
  • Gustav's parents were so busy with their coal business that he was raised by his grandmother.
  • His uncle was Jean Baptiste Mollerat, the inventor of the process of distilling vinegar.
  • He graduated 13th of 80 students at the École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in 1855.
  • In 1862, he married Marie Gaudelet. They had five children (three daughters and two sons) before she died in 1877.
  • Gustave's favorite things to design were bridges.
  • The Eiffel Tower was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
  • About 6.9 million people climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower every year.
  • Gustave began studying aerodynamics and meteorology after he saw the effect that wind was having on some of his designs.
  • He wrote a book on aerodynamics called Resistance of Air and Aviation.
  • It has been said that Gustave died while listening to Beethoven's fifth symphony.

Famous buildings

Famous Bridges

  • Maria Pia Bridge (Porto Viaduct)
  • Garabit Viaduct
  • Souleuvre Viaduct
  • Long Bien Bridge, Hanoi, Vietnam

Other Works

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Gustave Eiffel para niños

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