Engineering America: The Life and Times of John A. Roebling
Date: December 2020
Duration: 28 hours 33 minutes
John Roebling was one of the nineteenth century's most brilliant engineers, ingenious inventors, successful manufacturers, and fascinating personalities. Raised in a German backwater amid the war-torn chaos of the Napoleonic Wars, he immigrated to the US in 1831, where he became wealthy and acclaimed, eventually receiving a carte-blanche contract to build one of the nineteenth century's most stupendous and daring works of engineering: a gigantic suspension bridge to span the East River between New York and Brooklyn. In between, he thought, wrote, and worked tirelessly. He dug canals and surveyed railroads; he planned communities and founded new industries.
Like his finest creations, Roebling was held together by the delicate balance of countervailing forces. On the surface, his life was exemplary and his accomplishments legion. As an immigrant and employer, he was respected throughout the world. As an engineer, his works profoundly altered the physical landscape of America.
Roebling's engineering feats are well known, but the man himself is not; for alongside the drama of large scale construction lies an equally rich drama of intellectual and social development and crisis, one that mirrored and reflected the great forces, trials, and failures of nineteenth century America.