Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (15 December 1832 – 27 December 1923) was a French civil engineer.
A graduate of École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures, he made his name with various bridges for the French railway network, most famously the Garabit viaduct. He is best known for the world-famous Eiffel Tower, built for the 1889 Universal Exposition in Paris, and his contribution to building the Statue of Liberty in New York. After his retirement from engineering, Eiffel focused on research into meteorology and aerodynamics, making significant contributions in both fields.
Alexandre Gustave Eiffel was born in France, in the Côte-d'Or, the first child of Catherine-Mélanie (née Moneuse) and Alexandre Bonickhausen dit Eiffel. He was a descendant of Jean-René Bönickhausen, who had emigrated from the German town of Marmagen and settled in Paris at the beginning of the 18th century. The family adopted the name Eiffel as a reference to the Eifel mountains in the region from which they had come. Although the family always used the name Eiffel, Gustave's name was registered at birth as Bonickhausen dit Eiffel, and was not formally changed to Eiffel until 1880.

At the time of Gustave's birth his father, an ex-soldier, was working as an administrator for the French Army; but shortly after his birth his mother expanded a charcoal business she had inherited from her parents to include a coal-distribution business, and soon afterwards his father gave up his job to assist her. Due to his mother's business commitments, Gustave spent his childhood living with his grandmother, but nevertheless remained close to his mother, who was to remain an influential figure until her death in 1878. The business was successful enough for Catherine Eiffel to sell it in 1843 and retire on the proceeds. Eiffel was not a studious child, and thought his classes at the Lycée Royal in Dijon boring and a waste of time, although in his last two years, influenced by his teachers for history and literature, he began to study seriously, and he gained his baccalauréats in humanities and science. An important part in his education was played by his uncle, Jean-Baptiste Mollerat, who had invented a process for distilling vinegar and had a large chemical works near Dijon, and one of his uncle's friends, the chemist Michel Perret. Both men spent a lot of time with the young Eiffel, teaching him about everything from chemistry and mining to theology and philosophy.
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