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July 3: Citroën’s Factory

July 2, 2015

andreEngineer André Citroën, who introduced mass manufacturing to French industry through the car that bears his name, died at 57 in Paris on this date in 1935. Citroën developed the double helical (or herringbone) gear, which drove the RMS Titanic. In 1913, he took over the Mors automobile company and turned it into a dynamo of the French economy. During World War I, he became France’s head of mass-manufacturing of armaments. In 1919, he created his own car company using assembly-line techniques developed by Henry Ford in Detroit. Citroën also developed car dealerships in France, road signs for the highways, and novel advertising techniques (such as lighting up the Eiffel Tower with the company’s name — which, ironically enough, means “lemon”). Citroën was active in the masonic movement and was seen as a socially responsible boss who established healthcare and childcare facilities in his factories. He was also a gambler, however, which helped lead a takeover of his company by the Michelin tire company the year before his death. Paris’ Parc André Citroën public garden is on the former site of his manufacturing plant.

eiffel1“Citroën financed various scientific expeditions, including one that traveled 8,000 miles... by car from Beirut to Peking (1931–32). The lighting of the Arc de Triomphe and of the Place de la Concorde were gifts from Citroën to the city of Paris.” —Encyclopedia Brittanica

Thanks to Gary Ferdman for suggesting this Jewdayo entry.