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August 21: The Bridge Builder

Lawrence Bush
August 20, 2016

David B. Steinman, the structural engineer who built Michigan’s Mackinaw Bridge (pictured above) and the Mid-Hudson Valley of New York’s Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, died at 74 on this date in 1960. Steinman grew up in an immigrant home in Manhattan, under the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge and during the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge. He put himself through the City College of New York and Columbia University, where he received his Ph.D. in civil engineering, with a thesis on bridge truss design. In the course of his career, Steinman built bridges in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Great Britain, Haiti, Iraq, Italy, Pakistan, Portugal, Puerto Rico, and Thailand. He also headed the American Association of Engineers and founded the National Society of Professional Engineers in 1934. Steinman began writing poetry at age 63 and was widely published. He became president of the Wisconsin Poetry Foundation and director of the Poetry Institute in New York. He also wrote books about bridge-building for children and adults.

“A bridge is a poem stretched across a river, a symphony of stone and steel.” --David B. Steinman

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.