Estevan Antonio Fuertes

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Estevan Antonio Fuertes
Estevan Antonio Fuertes.jpg
BornMay 10, 1838
DiedJanuary 16, 1903(1903-01-16) (aged 64)
EducationTroy Polytechnic Institute, BSCE
Spouse(s)Mary Stone Perry
ChildrenJames Hillhouse Fuertes, Louis Agassiz Fuertes
Engineering career
DisciplineAstronomy, Civil engineering
InstitutionsCornell University

Estevan Antonio Fuertes (May 10, 1838 San Juan, Puerto Rico – January 16, 1903 Ithaca, New York) was a Puerto Rican-American astronomer and civil engineer.


Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Estevan Antonio Fuertes was the son of Estevan and Demetria Cherbonnier Fuertes. He received his education at Salamanca, Spain, and at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, New York.

From 1861 to 1863, he was assistant engineer in the Department of Public Works, Puerto Rico, and subsequently served as director of public works for the western district of that island. Coming to the United States in 1864, he was successively assistant engineer and engineer to the Croton Aqueduct Board, and prepared a valuable report on the connection of the Croton water supply with the manufactures of New York City.

From 1870 to 1871, he was chief engineer of the American Isthmian Canal expeditions to Tehuantepec and Nicaragua to investigate and report on the practicability of a ship canal connecting the Caribbean and the Pacific.

In 1873, he was appointed founding dean of the Civil Engineering Department of Cornell, and from 1890 to 1902 directed the Cornell's College of Civil Engineering advancing its research and technical programs to its then "state-of-the-art" modern standard.

In 1902, he was also appointed professor of astronomy at Cornell and supervised the construction of the A. C. Barnes Observatory.

The Fuertes Observatory (completed in 1917) on North Campus was subsequently named in his honor and remains in his name to this day.

On the international plane, Fuertes also is known for his visionary design and comprehensive planning of the drainage systems of Santos, Brazil.

He was a member of many scientific societies, American and foreign, and published numerous scientific articles and reports.

Fuertes is buried at Lake View Cemetery in Ithaca, New York.


On December 11, 1860, he married Mary Stone Perry. They had six children: Felix Juan (b. November 20, 1861 Puerto Rico), James Hillhouse, George Perry (April 15, 1865 Brooklyn, New York - October 6, 1878 Ithaca), Sarah Demetria (b. January 6, 1868 Stamford, Connecticut), Mary Katherine (b. March 16, 1872 Stamford) and Louis Agassiz.



  • Wikisource-logo.svg Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Fuertes, Estevan Antonio" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  • Wikisource-logo.svg Gilman, D. C.; Peck, H. T.; Colby, F. M., eds. (1906). "Fuertes, Estevan Antonio" . New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.
  • "Professor Fuertes Dies" (PDF). Cornell Alumni News. Ithaca, New York. V (15). January 21, 1903.
  • "Hillhouse Family Genealogy: Register Report of Abraham Hillhouse". Retrieved March 8, 2011. This source gives a birth year of 1836 for Fuertes.