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Special Focus - - CONTENTS - Simon Tofield

There­fore, the gov­ern­ment de­cided to re­build the Lon­don Bridge.

The dis­posal of the old Lon­don Bridge was brought up on the agenda. The city gov­ern­ment spe­cially held a par­lia­ment meet­ing to dis­cuss it. At this meet­ing, city coun­cilor Ivan Luckin pro­posed to of­fer this old bridge to an an­tique mar­ket for auc­tion.

The city gov­ern­ment pub­lished the auc­tion no­tice and un­til five weeks be­fore the auc­tion day, not a sin­gle bid was made. Luckin be­lieved that it was due to lack of pro­mo­tion. He pro­posed to the gov­ern­ment to run a press con­fer­ence in New York to at­tract lo­cal de­vel­op­ers. The gov­ern­ment took his ad­vice.

Luckin knew that Lon­don Bridge might be a tough sell. Com­pleted in 1831 from a de­sign by en­gi­neer John Ren­nie, it was the less glam­orous suc­ces­sor of sev­eral other cross­ings, most no­tably the medieval Lon­don Bridge, which stood for 600 years and was once dot­ted with build­ings and wa­ter­wheels. Lon­don­ers con­sid­ered the ex­ist­ing bridge dull by com­par­i­son, but after ar­riv­ing in Amer­ica, Luckin pro­moted it as a time­less land­mark. “Lon­don Bridge is not just a bridge,” he an­nounced in a press con­fer­ence in New York. “It is the heir to 2,000 years of his­tory go­ing back to the first cen­tury A.D., to the time of the Ro­man Lon­dinium.” This was quoted by many news­pa­pers in their top sto­ries.

The news was caught by U.S. real es­tate de­vel­oper McCul­loch.

Mr. McCul­loch bought the devel­op­ment rights to 16,000-acres in Havasu Lake City in 1963, where he built houses to sell. How­ever, hardly any were sold. He made many at­tempts to at­tract buy­ers but lit­tle progress was made. It was far out of the way and not many peo­ple were in­ter­ested.

The idea hit McCul­loch that if he brought the Lon­don Bridge to Havasu Lake City, the whole world would pay at­ten­tion, and the place would be­come a tourist des­ti­na­tion. Then his houses would sell and the price of the land would rise as well.

He im­me­di­ately put his idea into ac­tion by sub­mit­ting his bid­ding and start­ing con­ver­sa­tions on how to move the bridge across. There wasn’t any com­peti­tor for the auc­tion. He bought the Lon­don Bridge eas­ily at USD 2,460,000.

It was a long dis­tance from the U.K. to the U.S.. Tak­ing the bridge down and pack­ing the parts for ship­ping was a chal­lenge. The Lon­don Bridge was cov­ered by stones on the out­side. To main­tain its look, McCul­loch asked work­ers to num­ber all the parts and hoist them onto a huge ship. The ship took these parts to Long Beach in Cal­i­for­nia. Then they were trans­ported by train and trucks till they reached Havasu Lake City. There they were built into the Lon­don Bridge again ac­cord­ing to John Ren­nie’s orig­i­nal de­sign.

McCul­loch asked his de­signer to build English houses, shops, and churches around the bridge to match its style and to form a unique area of “lit­tle Lon­don”.

The day when the bridge was built, many peo­ple from the U.K. as well as other parts of the world came to see this bridge from Lon­don. It wasn’t built on the lake but on a penin­sula be­tween the city and the lake. It was a beau­ti­ful scene that at­tracted many vis­i­tors.

Peo­ple also started to buy houses here and soon all were sold. The prices soared and lo­cal res­i­dents ben­e­fited from this an­cient bridge.

A worn-out bridge be­came an an­tique and with this, it not only brought pros­per­ity to a city but also sealed its story in the his­tory books.

( From Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Daily, June 8,

2017. Trans­la­tion: Zhang Lei)

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