Babies named for the Eiffel Tower

Photo of the Eiffel Tower during the Paris Exposition (1889).
The Eiffel Tower in 1889

The Eiffel Tower was created by civil engineer Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exposition of 1889 (which marked the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution). It took more than two years to construct and was the tallest man-made structure in the world until 1930.

We’ve already talked about one person named Eiffel Tower, and, since then, I’ve found a second Eiffel Tower. If we do a records search for the name Eiffel, though, we find dozens more. “Eiffel” was never common enough in the U.S. to appear in the SSA data, but I see Eiffels as early as 1889 in the SSDI, and as early as 1887 (the year construction began*) in vital records.

Here are the best-documented, U.S.-born Eiffels I found from the last years of the 1880s and the first years of the 1890s. Two-thirds of them are female.

Did you know that Gustave Eiffel’s surname at birth was actually Bönickhausen?

In the early 1700s, Gustave’s ancestor Jean-Rene Bönickhausen relocated from a town in the mountainous Eifel region of Germany to the capital of France and began going by Eiffel (perhaps because it was easier to pronounce than Bönickhausen). So the official surname of this branch of the family tree became “Bönickhausen, dit Eiffel.” Gustave didn’t legally shorten it to Eiffel until 1879.

The word “Eifel” can be traced back to the Early Middle Ages, but the etymology is unknown.

What are your thoughts on Eiffel as a first name? Would you use it?

*The Eiffel Tower was being mentioned in the newspapers was early as mid-1886, but the name wasn’t set yet; it was being called things like “the Great Tower,” “the Tower of Paris,” and “the Eiffel Tall Tower.”

Sources:

Image: Eiffel Tower, with Fountain Coutan to left, looking toward Trocadéro Palace, Paris Exposition, 1889 – LOC

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.