In 1831 the City of London completed the “new” London Bridge, based on the designs of John Rennie. By the middle of the 20th century the bridge was no longer capable of withstanding the heavy traffic that was gradually pushing it into the Thames river.To ensure its preservation as a monument to British engineering, London put up the bridge for auction.The American entrepreneur Robert McCulloch had recently founded Lake Havasu City (one of four cities he founded) along an artificial lake in the Arizona desert. He realized that in order to attract investors, visitors and residents, he needed a recognizable landmark. In 1968 he put in the winning bid of 2.46 million dollars and transported the bridge to the US for another 6 million dollars.
McCulluch and his collaborator C.V.Wood (the designer of Disney Land) dug a channel off Lake Havasu to the width of the Thames River and, while it was still dry, rebuilt the bridge across it. After the re-dedication of October 10th, 1971, the channel was flooded with lake water, separating a part of the city, and giving the bridge one of many new purposes. McCulloch built an English-themed tourist village and expanded the city, which has reached a population of over 56,000.The bridge has become the second most popular tourist attraction in Arizona, after the Grand Canyon.
London Bridge still shows some of the German bullet holes from World War II and the patina from English coal smog is bleaching in the desert sun. It has withstood a fire, cars driving through the railings, plunging into the channel, and neo-nazi graffiti attacks.Traffic has started to overwhelm the bridge, but this time a second one — not a replacement — is being considered for a nearby crossing.
Andrea Robbins and Max Becher 1996/2009