The Towering Achievements of Gustave Eiffel

The 19th-century engineer is best known for his tower, but do you know what else he built?

By Google Arts & Culture

Gustave Eiffel en pied dans l'escalier de la tour Eiffel by © Collection tour EiffelEiffel Tower

Gustave Eiffel

Gustave Eiffel lived between 1832 and 1923, he was an architect and engineer, who not only designed the enduring symbol of France, but also bridges, houses, and churches worldwide. Scroll, click, and drag to explore some of his famous constructions and learn more...

The Eiffel Tower, Paris

Of course, he's best known for the tower that bears his name. The Eiffel Tower was built for Paris' Exposition Universelle of 1889. Originally it was designed as a temporary structure, and was despised by many, but it soon found use as radio tower, and was never taken down.

The Bordeaux Bridge, Bordeaux

But Eiffel's career began much earlier. His first construction was this railway bridge, built in 1861 to span the Garonne where it winds its way through Bordeaux. Sadly it's no longer in use today, and there are even plans to demolish what remains.

Cubzac Bridge, Cubzac-les-Ponts

When the road bridge at Cubzac-les-Ponts collapsed in 1869, Eiffel started drawing up designs for a new one, though construction would start ten years later. During the Second World War the bridge was destroyed, but funnily enough, it was rebuilt by Eiffel's own grandson.

Garabit Viaduct, Ruynes-en-Margeride

Eiffel's work was so well-regarded that when plans were drawn up for a viaduct to span the Truyère, he was offered the contract immediately. In total the crossing is 565m. The graceful parabolic arch alone spans 165 metres.

Notre-Dame-des-Champs, Paris

But Eiffel didn't just make bridges. Along with Eugène Bonté and Léon Ginain, he designed this Romanesque style church in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Construction began in 1867 and was completed in 1876 - having been delayed by the Franco-Prussian war.

Cathedral of San Marcos, Arica

This cathedral in Arica, Chile was actually one of Eiffel's earliest commissions. In 1866 he had designed a prefabricated metal church, so when in 1868 the old Cathedral of San Marcos was destroyed he was able to quickly ship over this new building - and it's stood ever since.

Budapest-Nyugati Station, Budapest

Today, Eiffel's glass-fronted design for Budapest-Nyugati Station doesn't look out of place, but at the time it was revolutionary. Usually, the glass station halls were covered by brick and stone facades, but here the naked metal is revealed to the world.

Statue of Liberty, New York

Did you know Eiffel played a key role in the Statue of Liberty? He didn't design Lady liberty - that was Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi - rather, the metal framework that holds it up. Due to the high winds, sea spray, and fluctuating temperatures of New York, this was no mean feat.

Assembly of the Construction of the Statue of Liberty (1882/1884) by AnonymeMusée des arts et métiers

Eiffel's design uses spring-like metal bars that reduce the stresses placed on the iron framework and thin copper statue. He also added in abestos features to reduce the electro-chemical reactions that would take place between the two metals.

Au-dessus du deuxième étage - Juin 1888 by © Collection tour EiffelEiffel Tower

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