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[INFOGRAPHIC] 8 Amazing Facts About Concrete

by [user not found] | Sep 18, 2015

Concrete is one of the world's most used building materials and the history of concrete is a decorated one. Here are 8 amazing facts about concrete:


1. Reinforced Concrete Was "Laughed Down" At First

Ernest L. Ransome, an English engineer, is credited as the inventor of rebar and the idea of structurally reinforced concrete. 

While seen as a necessity in construction today, in Ransome’s 1912 book, “Reinforced Concrete Buildings,” Ransome makes note of how his idea was “laughed down” by the Technical Society of California. 

Soon after implementing his idea on the Alvord Lake Bridge, he left to the east coast feeling his idea would be better appreciated on the east coast.

2. The World’s First Concrete Bridge is Still Standing

Alvord Lake Bridge was built in 1889 in San Francisco, CA. This bridge was the first - and oldest - reinforced concrete bridge, and it still exists today, over one hundred years after it was built. The bridge is also one of the earliest uses of rebar to reinforce structures

3. Portland Cement Isn’t Named After Portland, OR

In 1824, Englishman Joseph Aspdin was awarded the patent for a substance he called Portland Cement. He called it such because it resembled the “oolithic limestone” - or Portland stone - of Portland, England.

4. Thomas Edison Designed The First Concrete Homes

In 1908, Thomas Edison designed and built the first concrete homes in Union, New Jersey.

Edison’s idea was to make a house out of a single pour of concrete. He believed given the right mold, “stairs, mantels, ornamental ceilings and other interior decorations and fixtures” would form formed from the same pour.

While the goal was efficiency in home building, the reality wasn’t. Historian Adam Goodheart wrote that “a builder had to buy at least $175,000 worth of material before pouring a single home.” Adjusted to 2015 dollars, that’s over 4 million dollars!

5. The Ready Made Concrete Industry Is Massive

As of 2015, the total sum value of all the ready mixed concrete that is produced by the concrete industry is estimated at $25 billion USD.

6. Were The Giza Pyramids Built From Concrete?

Scientists have debated whether the stones that created the Giza Pyramids were carved from stone or cast from a limestone and water mixture and hardened.

In the 1980s French chemical engineer Joseph Davidovits argued that ancient Giza builders used pulverized limestone mixed with water and hardened the material in natural forms. In 2006, Drexel University researcher Michel Barsoum found a “small but significant” portion of the Giza blocks were cast from limestone.

7. Before There Was Portland Cement, There Was Roman Concrete

The Romans are credited as the first developed society to manufacture and construct buildings out of concrete. The Roman concrete was made from lime, volcanic sand and volcanic rocks.

Scientists later found a ‘secret ingredient’ within the Roman concrete: stratlingite crystals. These crystals formed as a result of volcanic sand binding with limestone. The result was a material that prevented cracking by reinforcing interfacial zones.

8. The Oldest Piece Of Concrete Was Found in Israel

The earliest documented finding of concrete dates back to 12,000,000 B.C. in Israel. Israeli geologists in the 1960s unearthed and dated reactions between limestone and oil shale during a spontaneous combustion sometime in history.