Ari's Reviews > Engineers of Dreams: Great Bridge Builders and the Spanning of America

Engineers of Dreams by Henry Petroski
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bookshelves: technical-history

I have mixed feelings about this book. The introduction felt very rambly, and almost unreadable. I've noticed that in a lot of Petroski's books. However, the body of the book was both informative and pleasant to read. I learned things. The book has three strands to it: the history of bridge engineering, the technical aspects of bridge engineering and construction, and also the evolution of engineering culture.

Something I didn't really appreciate is that during the golden age of big bridge building, roughly 1890 - 1960, there were a comparatively small number of top designers who collectively were involved in a large fraction of the country's big recognizable bridges. Pretty much everybody building a big suspension bridge wanted Modjeski or Amman or one of the handful of other top people to look over the plans and advise.

There may be a few factual inaccuracies, however. In one spot, the author mentions the Bay Bridge as "carrying Bay Area Rapid Transit trains on its lower deck" in 1989. This isn't true, and has never been true. The bridge used to carry Key System trolleys (lighter than BART trains), but that ended long before 1989.

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Reading Progress

April 27, 2009 – Shelved
September 15, 2012 – Started Reading
September 22, 2012 –
page 300
September 23, 2012 – Finished Reading
August 14, 2016 – Shelved as: technical-history

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