Roebling, John Augustus


Roebling, John Augustus
born , June 12, 1806, Mühlhausen, Prussia
died July 22, 1869, Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., U.S.

German-U.S. civil engineer, a pioneer in the design of suspension bridges.

He immigrated to the U.S. in 1831. His best-known work is New York's Brooklyn Bridge. In the 1850s and '60s Roebling and his son Washington (1837–1926) built four suspension bridges: two at Pittsburgh, one at Niagara Falls (1855), and one at Cincinnati (1866). When his design for a bridge connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan was accepted, he was appointed chief engineer. He died from an injury he received as construction began. Washington completed the project in 1883; himself incapacitated from 1872 by decompression sickness, his completion of the work depended heavily on his wife, Emily Warren Roebling.

* * *

▪ American engineer
born , June 12, 1806, Mühlhausen, Prussia
died July 22, 1869, Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., U.S.
 German-born U.S. civil engineer (civil engineering), a pioneer in the design of steel suspension bridges (suspension bridge). His best known work is the Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, completed under the direction of his eldest son, Washington Augustus, in 1883.

      After graduating from the polytechnic school in Berlin, Roebling worked for the Prussian government for three years and at the age of 25 emigrated to the U.S. He settled with others from his hometown in a small colony that was later called Saxonburg, near Pittsburgh, in the hills of western Pennsylvania. He married the daughter of another Mühlhausen emigrant, and they had nine children. After a few years of unsuccessful farming, John Roebling went to the state capital in Harrisburg and applied for employment as a civil engineer.

      He had often watched canalboats being hauled over hills from one watershed to another, and he persuaded the canal commissioners to let him replace the hempen hawsers with wire cables. He developed his own method for stranding and weaving wire cables, which proved to be as strong and durable as he had predicted. The demand for such cable soon became so great that he established a factory to manufacture it in Trenton, N.J. This was the beginning of an industrial complex that finally was capable of producing everything from chicken wire to enormous 36-inch (91-centimetre) cables. It remained a family-owned business, carried on by three generations of Roeblings.

 Roebling was less a businessman than an engineer, and with the growth of his reputation as a designer and builder of long-span suspension bridges, he spent less and less time at the Trenton factory. His eldest son, Washington, joined him in his work, and in the 1850s and 1860s they built four suspension bridges: two at Pittsburgh, one at Niagara Falls, and another across the Ohio River between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Covington, Ky., with a main span of 1,051 feet (320 metres). New York state accepted Roebling's design for a bridge connecting Brooklyn and Manhattan with a span of 1,595 ft (486 m) and appointed him chief engineer.

      Work on the bridge cost Roebling his life. He was taking final compass readings while standing on some pilings at a ferry slip and did not notice that a boat was docking. As it banged into the slip, one of his feet was caught between the pilings. He was rushed to his son's house in Brooklyn Heights, where the doctors amputated his injured toes. Three weeks later, he died of tetanus at the age of 63. His son carried on his work on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Additional Reading
The definitive biography of the Roeblings is Hamilton Schuyler, The Roeblings: A Century of Engineers, Bridge-Builders and Industrialists (1931). See also D.B. Steinman, The Builders of the Bridge: The Story of John Roebling and His Son (1945).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Roebling,John Augustus — Roeb·ling (rōʹblĭng), John Augustus. 1806 1869. German born American engineer who designed and began the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, a project completed (1883) by his son Washington Augustus Roebling (1837 1926). * * * …   Universalium

  • ROEBLING, John Augustus — (1806 1869) and Washington Augustus ROEBLING (1837 1926)    See STEEL …   Historical Dictionary of Architecture

  • Roebling, John Augustus — (12 jun. 1806, Mühlhausen, Prusia–22 jul. 1869, Brooklyn Heights, N.Y., EE.UU.). Ingeniero civil alemán estadounidense, un pionero en el diseño de puentes colgantes. Emigró a EE.UU. en 1831. Su obra más conocida es el puente de Brooklyn de Nueva… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Roebling, John Augustus —  (1806–1869) American engineer, designer of Brooklyn Bridge …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • ROEBLING, Washington Augustus —    See ROEBLING, John Augustus …   Historical Dictionary of Architecture

  • Roebling, Washington Augustus — ▪ American engineer born May 26, 1837, Saxonburg, Pa., U.S. died July 21, 1926, Trenton, N.J.  U.S. civil engineer under whose direction the Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, was completed in 1883; the bridge was designed by Roebling with his… …   Universalium

  • John Augustus Roebling — Este artículo o sección necesita referencias que aparezcan en una publicación acreditada, como revistas especializadas, monografías, prensa diaria o páginas de Internet fidedignas. Puedes añadirlas así o avisar …   Wikipedia Español

  • John Augustus Roebling — vers 1847–1848. John Augustus Roebling (né Johann August Röbling le 12 juin 1806 à Mühlhausen, Allemagne mort le 22 juillet 1869 à New York, États Unis) était un ingénieur civil né allemand, connu pour ses ponts suspendus à des câbles d acier …   Wikipédia en Français

  • John Augustus Roebling — noun United States engineer (born in Germany) who designed and began construction of the Brooklyn bridge (1806 1869) • Syn: ↑Roebling, ↑John Roebling • Instance Hypernyms: ↑engineer, ↑applied scientist, ↑technologist …   Useful english dictionary

  • ROEBLING (J. A.) — ROEBLING JOHN AUGUSTUS (1806 1869) Les ponts ne relèvent pas à proprement parler de l’architecture: on confie généralement leur construction à des ingénieurs n’ayant aucune formation architecturale, Maillart étant l’exception la plus remarquable… …   Encyclopédie Universelle