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Famous Names

Gustave Eiffel

born in Dijon 1832-1923

Paris would just not be the same without the Eiffel Tower, named after one of Burgundy’s most famous sons. This is the city’s most iconic building, visited by 6,700,000 people in 2010. Such was its impact that back in 1889 when it was completed for the World Fair, 2,000,000 people flocked to see this 300m high metal structure, towering over the capital by day and by night.

Gustave Eiffel was an engineer and contractor, skilled at large metal structures, particularly enormous bridges which were elegantly constructed in wrought iron latticework. This was the time of the industrial revolution when new technologies and materials were developing and people were travelling far and wide. Eiffel was no exception designing and constructing bridges from Vietnam to Peru. As he perfected the engineering of metal, he worked with architects on buildings - the Market Hall in the town of his birth, Dijon, the department store Bon Marché in Paris with its spectacular light wells (see section right, courtesy of greatbuildings.com) , and the train station in La Paz, Bolivia are examples. Apart from the Paris tower, Eiffel is also famous for making the framework for the Statue of Liberty in New York, a gift from France to the U.S.A. 

Eiffel’s reputation suffered when he was implicated in financial scandals surrounding the French Panama Canal project although he was later vindicated.

He went on to study aerodynamics. Some of his advancements included: designing a system of hydraulic presses which allowed workers to set bridge foundations deep under water; creating sturdy yet lightweight "web-like" trusses and arches to withstand high winds; using wrought iron for bridge construction - its flexibility could withstand high winds; and curving the edges of piers to create more stable bases.

Book flights to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower and enjoy city breaks in the capital, the largest city in France.