The weekend was a bit of a downer for me, as I dealt with (what I think was) a touch of the flu. So I enjoyed Columbus Day today. While it’s not an “automatic” holiday at the office, it is one of the optional holidays we can take. I drove in to the office long enough to drop a few things off and see if there was anything I could break before 9:00am, then headed home.
I have no idea how long “London Bridge is Falling Down” has been a song. Well, “song” is a bit of a stretch, because as far as I know, it has just two short verses and no chorus. It’s probably more of a nursery rhyme. Well, that’s not strictly true, either, because it doesn’t rhyme. But it has a tune, so there’s that.
Whatever it isn’t, it most certainly is a song about the London Bridge, which has spanned the Thames River in England since time out of mind. There have been several different bridges over the hundreds of years it’s been around, but we’re probably most familiar with the one built in the 1820s, because now it’s here in America.
By the 1960s, London Bridge was indeed ready to fall down. In the 130 years since its construction, London traffic had greatly increased, both in number and in size (cars were way heavier than horses, buggies, and bicycles). A new bridge was needed to replace it.
But rather than just knock it down and build bigger and stronger, London’s city council got the crazy idea to sell the bridge, which seems incredibly silly at first glance. There just aren’t that many collectors around. Plus there’s the whole transportation thing, and where to display it, and who really wants to buy a bridge anyway?!?
Well, Robert McCulloch wanted to buy a bridge. He was a rich oil man who was building a community on Lake Havasu in Arizona. He had a couple spare million lying around and bought the bridge. Then some people had to go and number all the bricks on the bridge, then take it apart, transport it to Arizona, and put it back together. But they didn’t use the entire bridge, since there were those afore-mentioned structural issues. Instead, they essentially “coated” a new bridge, with the bricks from the old, creating a much stronger replica.
And on October 10, 1971, the bridge was opened for business.
Recommended Reading: Great Buildings of the World – Bridges