engineer and architect
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel was
born in Dijon, France, on December 15, 1832. He
graduated from the Ecole Centrale des Arts et
Manufactures in 1855, after which he spent
several years in the South West of France
supervising work on iron railway bridges.
Eiffel founded his own
ironworks company in 1865, and soon gained a
reputation for his unique designs and attention
to detail. His most notable works include: the
Douro River Bridge in Porto, Portugal, which was
completed in 1876 and used until 1991; the
Garabit Viaduct in southern France, completed in
1882; the movable observatory dome in Nice; the
support framework for the Statue of Liberty; and the Eiffel Tower,
designed for the 1889 Paris World's Fair.
In 1887, Eiffel agreed to
design and build the locks for a French attempt
to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama.
Unfortunately, the business of actually building
the canal and locks was badly managed by
Ferdinand De Lesseps, and the canal project ended
in the biggest financial scandal of the century.
On February 4, 1889, despite not being personally
involved in any of the project's financial
matters, Eiffel was found guilty of fraud and
sentenced to two years in prison and fined 2,000
francs. Although the ruling was later annulled by
the French Court of Appeal, the scandal all but
ruined his appetite for business.
Unwilling to risk any more of his personal
wealth on future building projects, Eiffel spent
the rest of his life doing scientific research,
much of it centered around his famous Tower,
which he used in wind tunnel experiments, as a
meteorological observation post, and as a giant
aerial mast for radio broadcasting. Among his
achievements was the introduction of the use of
compressed air for sinking foundation caissons in
bridge construction. Resistance of the Air,
published in 1913, was based on his laboratory
experiments in the field of aerodynamics.
Gustave Eiffel died at his
Paris home on December 27, 1923.
Statue of Liberty
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