London Bridge (Lake Havasu City)

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London Bridge in Lake Havasu
London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona (3227888290).jpg
London Bridge in Lake Havasu City
CarriesMcCulloch Boulevard
CrossesBridgewater Channel Canal
LocaleLake Havasu City, Arizona, USA
DesignerJohn Rennie
DesignArch Bridge
MaterialClynelish (Brora) Sandstone and various granite mixes.
Total length930 feet (280 m)[1]
Longest span45.6 metres (150 ft)[2]
Number of spans5
Construction begin1968
Construction end1971 (reconstructed)
TollNone
Closed1967[1] (pre-move)
Coordinates34°28.3′N 114°20.8′W / 34.4717°N 114.3467°W / 34.4717; -114.3467Coordinates: 34°28.3′N 114°20.8′W / 34.4717°N 114.3467°W / 34.4717; -114.3467
 
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London Bridge in Lake Havasu
London Bridge, Lake Havasu City, Arizona (3227888290).jpg
London Bridge in Lake Havasu City
CarriesMcCulloch Boulevard
CrossesBridgewater Channel Canal
LocaleLake Havasu City, Arizona, USA
DesignerJohn Rennie
DesignArch Bridge
MaterialClynelish (Brora) Sandstone and various granite mixes.
Total length930 feet (280 m)[1]
Longest span45.6 metres (150 ft)[2]
Number of spans5
Construction begin1968
Construction end1971 (reconstructed)
TollNone
Closed1967[1] (pre-move)
Coordinates34°28.3′N 114°20.8′W / 34.4717°N 114.3467°W / 34.4717; -114.3467Coordinates: 34°28.3′N 114°20.8′W / 34.4717°N 114.3467°W / 34.4717; -114.3467

London Bridge is a bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, United States. It is a relocated 1831 bridge that formerly spanned the River Thames in London, England, until it was dismantled in 1967. The Arizona bridge is a reinforced concrete structure clad in the original masonry of the 1830s bridge, which was bought by Robert P. McCulloch from the City of London. McCulloch had exterior granite blocks from the original bridge numbered and transported to America to construct the present bridge in Lake Havasu City, a planned community he established in 1964 on the shore of Lake Havasu. The bridge was completed in 1971 (along with a canal), and links an island in the Colorado River with the main part of Lake Havasu City.

History[edit]

The 1831 London Bridge was the last project of engineer John Rennie and completed by his son, John Rennie the Younger.[3] By 1962, the bridge was not sound enough to support the increased load of modern traffic, and was sold by the City of London.

The purchaser, Robert McCulloch, the chairman of McCulloch Oil Corporation, was the founder of Lake Havasu City, his retirement real estate development on the east shore of Lake Havasu, a large reservoir on the Colorado River. McCulloch purchased the bridge to serve as a tourist attraction to Lake Havasu, which at that time was far from the usual tourist track. The idea was successful, bringing interested tourists and retirement home buyers to the area.

Originally, the deserted Lake Havasu vacant land was given to the state of Arizona by the U.S. federal government. The federal property was an abandoned landing strip for the military. McCulloch made a deal with the state government and received the property for free with a promise to develop the land. The problem was that the real estate agents could not bring in prospective buyers, because the land was far from centers of population and had a very hot, arid climate. McCulloch's real estate agent, Robert Plumer, learned that the London Bridge was for sale and convinced McCulloch to buy it and bring it to the area to attract potential land buyers. The initial response from McCulloch was, "That's the craziest idea I have ever heard," but after consideration, he decided to go ahead with the purchase. Plumer then arranged with a cargo shipping company that was going to sail a newly built ship from Great Britain to the United States without any cargo. Plumer said they would pay for all operating costs of the sailing, which was far less than the going rate shipping costs. The bridge facing stones were disassembled and each was numbered. After the bridge was dismantled, it was transported to Merrivale Quarry where 15 to 20 cm (5.9 to 7.9 inches) was sliced off many of the original stones. The bridge arrived in pieces at the Port of Houston and then was transported overland to Lake Havasu City, where re-assembly began in 1968. On 23 September 1968, the foundation stone was relaid by Sir Gilbert Inglefield, Lord Mayor of London.[4]

The original stonework was used to clad a concrete structure, so that the bridge is no longer the original after which it is modeled.[1] The reconstruction took slightly over three years and was completed in late 1971. The bridge was not reconstructed over a river, but rather it was rebuilt on land in a position between the main part of the city and Pittsburgh Point, at that time a peninsula jutting into Lake Havasu. Once completed, the Bridgewater Channel Canal was dredged under the bridge and flooded, separating Pittsburgh Point from the city, creating an island. The bridge thus now traverses a navigable shortcut between the Thompson Bay part of Lake Havasu south of Pittsburgh Point, and the remainder of Lake Havasu to the north.[5]

London Bridge in 1972, showing the canal

After it was reconstructed, new prospective land buyers were interested in coming to see the London Bridge and take a tour of properties for sale. Land sales improved and McCulloch recouped all of his expenses for the purchase and shipping of the bridge. Since the cost of the land was nothing, the sale of the properties paid for the bridge and more. Recent years have seen a large amount of development in the area of the bridge to increase tourist interest. The original "English Village", a quaint English-style open-air mall with hedge maze and historical museum, has deteriorated, with sections leveled.

In popular culture[edit]

It is a popular rumor that the bridge was bought in the belief that it was London's more recognizable Tower Bridge,[6][7][8] but this was ardently denied by McCulloch himself and by Ivan Luckin, who sold the bridge.[9]

The bridge's relocation was the basis of a 1985 made-for-television movie Bridge Across Time, also known as Arizona Ripper or Terror at London Bridge, directed by E.W. Swackhamer and starring David Hasselhoff, Stepfanie Kramer, and Randolph Mantooth.[10] In the film, a series of murders in Lake Havasu is attributed to the spirit of Jack the Ripper, whose soul is transported to the United States in one of the stones of the bridge. Also, the movie Falling Down, the title of which references the nursery rhyme "London Bridge Is Falling Down",[citation needed] has a Los Angeles policeman's wife who wants to relocate to Lake Havasu City after he retires.

The animated show Pinky and the Brain mentions the bridge in the episode “Napolean Brainaparte” (Season 1). After Pinky suggests that a huge glass pyramid would make the square in front of the Louvre look even better, Brain replies with “they might as well send the London Bridge to America”. Later in the episode during the “Are you pondering what I am pondering?? scenes, Pinky answers with “but first you would have to take that whole bridge apart, wouldn’t you?“.

A reference to the bridge's sale and move is made in the first verse of the song "London Homesick Blues" by Gary P. Nunn:
"Well, when you're down on your luck / and you ain't got a buck / in London you're a goner.
Even London Bridge has fallen down / and moved to Arizona / now I know why."[citation needed]

Image gallery[edit]

A panoramic view of the entire bridge.
London Bridge in about 1870 when it crossed the River Thames in London

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Jackson, Donald C. (1988). Great American Bridges and Dams. Wiley. p. 245. ISBN 0-471-14385-5. 
  2. ^ London Bridge (1831) at Structurae
  3. ^ John Murray 1874 "Handbook to London As It Is", p. 43.
  4. ^ Elborough, Travis (2013-02-07). London Bridge in America: The Tall Story of a Transatlantic Crossing. Random House. pp. 211–212. ISBN 9781448181674. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Frederic B. Wildfang (29 September 2005). Lake Havasu City. Chicago: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 105–122. ISBN 978-0-7385-3012-3. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  6. ^ Polaris EX2100/LE2100 Sport Boats Popular Mechanics, December 2003, archived on September 30, 2007 from Polaris EX2100/LE2100 the original
  7. ^ Oliver, Mark (2004-12-14). "Bridges". The Guardian. Retrieved 2010-05-11. 
  8. ^ 'If That's The Acropolis, How Come It Don't Chime?' in Alan Coren The Sanity Inspector Coronet Books, 1974. ISBN 0-340-19912-1
  9. ^ How London Bridge Was Sold To The States This Is Local London, March 27, 2002
  10. ^ Bridge Across Time (TV 1985) IMDb

External links[edit]