California Concrete, 1876-1906: Jackson, Percy, and the Beginnings of Reinforced Concrete Construction in the United States
Sara E. Wermiel
|Conference:||Third International Congress on Construction History, Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus, Germany , 20th-24th May 2009|
|Published in:||Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Construction History [3 Volumes]|
This paper describes the early history of reinforced concrete construction in the United States. It traces the line of development from Thaddeus Hyatt through the engineer Peter H. Jackson and architect George W. Percy, to the constructor Ernest L. Ransome. Surprisingly, this occurred in the San Francisco Bay Area, far from the places where Portland cement was produced. Jackson was probably the first American to build Hyatt’s patented reinforced concrete slabs. Percy and Ransome together created two of the earliest reinforced concrete buildings, in 1890-1891. Yet, after this, no all-reinforced building went up in the Bay Area until about 1906. Ransome moved his business east, and at the opening of the twentieth century, reinforced concrete buildings began to be built on the East Coast, by Ransome and others. Nevertheless, the few reinforced concrete buildings in the Bay Area, and the many buildings there with steel frames and concrete floors passed through the tremendous earthquake of 1906. The satisfactory performance of concrete in the 1906 earthquake and fire led to its widespread use in rebuilding San Francisco.