For about four hours Saturday morning, the Quad was filled with the sounds of banging hammers and buzzing drills.
Students, alumni, and faculty engineers assembled a 150-foot replica of the Northampton Street Bridge to commemorate the 150th anniversary of engineering at Lafayette. By noon it dominated the Quad and homecoming conversations across campus.
The “Free Bridge,” which was designed by James Madison Porter III ’1886, stands as an example of the Lafayette ideal with its blend of engineering, artistry, and aesthetics.
“It’s just a great way to celebrate the 150th and continues to show the tie between Easton and Lafayette,” says bridge crew member Carol Henry ’81, whose student thesis on the bridge helped get it placed on the historical registry and possibly saved it from demolition.
“Back in the 1980s there were rumors about removing the bridge,” she says. “So the College, because of its connection to the bridge, became interested in its preservation.”
“This bridge connects people through its history with the College and its symbolism to unite artistry and engineering to seek creative solutions and improve lives, which is what Lafayette is all about,” says Scott Hummel, the William Jeffers Director of the Engineering Division. “It’s just perfect.”
Dan Kucz ’07, a civil engineering graduate, says he wouldn’t be where he is today without Porter’s bridge and the learning and inspiration it represents.
“It’s fitting that all of us can pay homage to Porter, and for me it’s an opportunity to pay tribute to what I learned here,” says Kucz, a bridge engineer for FIGG, an engineering firm specializing in the design and construction of bridges.
“I just wanted to be part of it, because it’s all about the tradition here,” says Sana Khan ’20, a civil engineering major who visited the actual bridge by the Delaware River last week to sketch and study it.
The bridge replica was disassembled on Sunday, and the lumber and construction materials will be donated to the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity.