by Don Friedman on May 8, 2017

Seeing as how we’re north of 500 blog posts (as of May 2017), it’s probably too late for a Frequently Asked Questions post, but here it is anyway.

  • This is the blog of Old Structures Engineering. Most of the posts are written by me (Don Friedman) but not all.
  • Topics include pretty much anything touching on civil engineering, history, historic preservation, and New York City, with special emphasis on topics that combine two or more of those basic issues.
  • We generally put up one post per day, skipping holidays, but that can change.
  • Posts are usually written a week or two before they are published.
  • Unattributed pictures are either ours or in the public domain.
  • Clicking on pictures usually gets you a larger version of them.
  • We don’t allow comments because we’re busy working on engineering projects and don’t have time to address comments. That said, if you take the time to email us about something in the blog, we’ll respond.
  • This post will stay at the top of the heap for now. New posts will appear below.

A Slight Exaggeration

January 20, 2018

Those are the columns at the first floor of a seven-story concrete-frame industrial. building from the 1920s. They are roughly three feet in diameter and spaced at twenty feet on center. When that percentage of floor area is occupied by columns, they are intrusive and affect everything that might be done with the space. If […]

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Clickbait Headlines

January 19, 2018

The failure of the spillway at the Oroville Dam in California was a big story last year. The spillway failure had the potential to cause an overall failure of the dam, which would have been catastrophic. Emergency measures to lower the water behind the dam and repair the spillway worked, and a disaster was averted. […]

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Common Problems

January 18, 2018

The latest issue of the CROSS (Confidential Reporting on Structural-Safety) newsletter is out and I had a weird feeling of déjà vu while reading it. In the same order as within the newsletter, the topics include: Commentary on the rather grim UK government review of fire safety triggered by the horrific Grenfell Tower fire, Report […]

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Light Underground

January 17, 2018

That’s a vault light by the Luxcrete Company of England, a descendent of the Luxfer Prism company. As cool as the lenses are, I love the brass letters set in the concrete.

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An Iron Appendix

January 16, 2018

That’s a photo of an areaway in London. The wall on the right is the building and I’m standing at the corner of the areaway. The black coping along the left is on top of the curb that’s an extension of the areaway’s outboard wall, extending above the sidewalk. If I had to guess, I’d […]

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Raw Physics

January 14, 2018

The basis of a lot of structural engineering is the branch of physics known as “statics.” The picture above, taken at the Big Apple Circus a few weeks ago, is one of the finest demonstrations of balancing forces that I can imagine. (Click on it to enlarge and be awed.)

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Even in a Storm…

January 13, 2018

…the ferries have to keep running.

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Professional Engineer, but Forever a Student

January 12, 2018

  Sometime during my fall quarter as a freshman engineering student, I learned that there would be a test at the end of all of this, The Principles and Practice of Engineering (PE) Exam. Back then it seemed like such a ways off, but it registered to me as a personal goal that would ultimately […]

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Review: LEGO New York

January 11, 2018

  That’s one of my birthday presents from late 2017: the LEGO Architecture New York set, mostly assembled. The hole on the far right of the base will get the new One World Trade Center shortly. Good points: I like the way they did the vertical stripes on the Empire State Building. From a distance […]

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A Fine Line

January 10, 2018

That’s an old picture of the Cleft Rock Bridge in Prospect Park, built in 1872 as one of the picturesque bridges that Olmsted and Vaux liked to use for grade separations in park designs. It’s a nice looking bridge, although not remarkable within O&V’s work. What makes it remarkable is that it’s not cut stone […]

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