Why did they move London Bridge to America?

Not London but Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Image credit Ken Lund

You might have heard the song London Bridge is Falling Down but did you know it was taken down and rebuilt in Arizona?

The History of London Bridge

The Romans are thought to have been the first to span the river Thames in London. The Roman bridge was later rebuilt by the Saxons and destroyed by the Vikings. It has been suggested that the old nursery-rhyme recalls this particular act of destruction.

The bridge was rebuilt by William the Conqueror but a tornado destroyed it in 1091. Then, following another reconstruction, it was destroyed by fire in 1136. It was again rebuilt in 1163. This was the last time it was to be built entirely out of wood.

Soon after (in 1176), Henry II had the bridge rebuilt out of stone. The bridge was not finished until 1209. This version was so strong that numerous buildings were built along it. There were as many as 140 houses on it in the 14th century. Later, with each house having a shop beneath it, it became one of London’s busiest shopping streets.

London Bridge as it appeared in 1632.

After 550 years, several fires and partial collapses, the houses were torn down. However, renovations made to the bridge caused its structure to weaken.

The Building of New London Bridge

The old bridge was demolished in 1831 after a new one had been built alongside it. It soon became the busiest street in London and had to be widened. But surveys showed it was sinking! Another bridge was needed.

Bridge for Sale

During the 1960s, someone called Ivan Luckin decided on the novel of idea of selling the bridge. A member of Common Council of the City of London at the time, he recalled: “They all thought I was completely crazy when I suggested we should sell London Bridge when it needed replacing.”

Not London Bridge. Image credit Fuzzypiggy

American business-man Robert P. McCulloch bought it in the end for just under $2.5 million. Some think he believed he was buying the more recognizable Tower Bridge but he denied it. After it was bought, the bridge was taken down, stone by stone and shipped via the Panama Canal to California before its final journey to Arizona.

New London Bridge in its new home. Image credit Aran Johnson

The bridge now spans the Bridgewater Channel canal that runs through Lake Havasu City, Arizona.