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)