The Story of Cement, Concrete and Reinforced Concrete

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1977, Vol. 47, Issue 11, Pg. 63-65

Document Type: Feature article


When the dawn of history, man has sought for materials to cement stone and brick together. When rebuilding the Eddystone lighthouse in 1756, John Smeaton recognized ordinary lime morter would not harden under water. Suitable mortars, he found, came from limestone with the highest percent of clay. In 1824, Joseph Aspdin, a bricklayer in England, began making a new and improved cement, which he called Portland cement. The first extensive use of the man-made cement was in constructing the London sewage system from 1859 to 1867, a project that greatly stimulated Portland cement's popularity. Later, engineers began using a mixture of cement, sand, and stone that the Americans called concrete. In spite of its value as a foundation material, concrete would never have attained great popularity without the development of reinforced concrete. Reinforced concrete was invented by a Parisian gardener, Joseph Monier. In the 1860's he used a mesh of iron wire to reinforce his garden pots and tubs. In America, the first reinforced concrete construction was a house in Port Chester, N.Y., built in 1875 by W.E. Ward.

Subject Headings: Reinforced concrete | Cement | Rocks | Portland cement | History | Bricks | Civil engineering landmarks | Lime | United Kingdom | Europe | England | London

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