Cast Iron

A Tiny Dragon

There is only one item in the index to the Historic American Building Survey and the Historic American Engineering Record listed as “dragons.” It’s this cast-iron fence at 1000 North Dearborn Street in Chicago, described as “late nineteenth century.” It is, in my opinion, a beauty. It’s also tiny – the graphic ruler tied to …

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A Clever Detail

That little bridge from 1878, over the Roaring Run in Bedford County, Virginia, is still there and is on the National Register, so with a little luck it will stay there. It’s 55 feet long and 12 feet wide, so it’s not particularly surprising that it is a pony truss: a through truss that short …

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The Logic of a Hybrid

The Manhattan Life Insurance Building at 66 Broadway is one of those early skyscraper that wasn’t something enough. It was the tallest building in the world for five years, taking the record from Chicago’s Masonic Temple and losing it to the Park Row Building, but somehow it’s barely remembered even among people who have some …

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An Exception To The Rule

Cast-iron columns, no matter how historic and pretty they might be, are generally suspect. If the load on them increases, or if any combination of pattern live loading or lateral loading causes bending, they have to be carefully examined for safety in a way that’s not true of wrought iron or steel columns. The column …

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