Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America

By Henry Petroski

Petroski finds the technology and engineering--not to say the politics, egotism, and sheer magic--behind America's nice bridges, really these developed throughout the nice bridge-building period beginning within the 1870s and carrying on with during the Thirties. it's the tale of the lads and ladies who equipped the St. Louis, the George Washington, and the Golden Gate bridges, drawing not just on their mastery of numbers yet on their presents for persuasion and self-promotion. it's an account of triumphs and ignominious failures (including the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which accurately twisted itself aside in a excessive wind). And all through this grandly attractive publication, Petroski shall we us see how bridges grew to become the "symbols and souls" of our civilization, in addition to testaments to their developers' imaginative and prescient, ingenuity, and perseverance.

"Seamlessly linked...With magnificent scope and generosity of view, Mr. Petroski locations the culture of yankee bridge-building in perspective."--New York occasions publication assessment

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Louis, Missouri; Quebec, Canada; Toledo, Ohio; Memphis, Tennessee; Keokuk, Iowa; city, Illinois; New London, Connecticut; Poughkeepsie, manhattan; Cincinnati, Ohio; Omaha, Nebraska; Wenatchee, Washington; Clark’s Ferry, Pennsylvania; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Tacony, Pennsylvania; Detroit, Michigan; Melville, Louisiana; Louisville, Kentucky; Evansville, Indiana; Washington, D. C. ; Cairo, Illinois; Davenport, Iowa; and ny, ny. at the celebration of his receiving the Washington Award, Modjeski used to be stated to have “to his credits extra huge bridges than the other guy. ” yet that by myself used to be now not why he might obtain the Washington and different awards later in existence. the explanation, in response to Ralph Budd, president of the good Northern Railway, used to be uncomplicated: it truly is that Ralph Modjeski is inherently an artist. He has now not selected oil, or dry element, or marble, or perhaps track, during which he without doubt might have ex-celled, to specific himself, yet metal, and stone, and urban. utilizing those as his selected media, “by a lovely simplicity of shape and reliance upon the quiet dignity of the lengthy spans whose contributors gracefully show functionality loose from superfluities,” he has made up of bridge construction a well-known artwork with out the least bit minimizing its significance as a technological know-how. Ralph Modjeski, might be in his overdue forties (photo credits four. 20) Many engineers who may obtain such encomiums later in lifestyles usually traveled a protracted and dispiriting street ahead of attaining the rostrum between “prolonged applause,” yet few matched Modjeski’s heightened feel of theater. among 1905 and 1915, at the Oregon Trunk Railway, for instance, Modjeski served as leader engineer for a sequence of bridges, together with one over the Columbia River and a bold arch that spanned 340 ft at a peak of 350 toes over a so much dramatic development website at the Crooked River. Overlapping with this accountability was once his even more seen presence as a member of the govt Board of Engineers for the second one Quebec Bridge, from 1908 to its final touch in 1917. His posing with different engineers astride one of many bridge’s thirty-inch-diameter metal pins and status within one of many redesigned seven-by-ten-foot decrease chord contributors, established his experience of showmanship. Modjeski’s theatrical character could come much more to the fore while he labored as chairman of the board of engineers and leader engineer for the Delaware River Bridge among Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey, referred to now because the Ben Franklin Bridge, which with a chief span of 1,750 ft often is the longest suspension bridge on the earth while accomplished in 1926. Modjeski’s event as an enhance guy for his mom and his reward for public kinfolk may serve him good on that undertaking, because it had within the prior Quebec event, for there live to tell the tale pictures of him with a variety of teams of engineers, administrators, and town officers at likely every one level of development. while the foot bridges for the Delaware River undertaking have been accomplished on August eight, 1924, leader engineer Modjeski could lead politicians from either states at the first legitimate crossing from Philadelphia to Camden.

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