Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
A town of 52,000 people has called the famous bridge its own since 1971.
In 1962, the London Bridge (131-years-old at the time) was discovered to be sinking into the Thames, unable to handle 21st century traffic demands. By 1971, it was reborn in a new planned community of 8,000 people ... in Arizona.
Robert McCulloch, founder of the Lake Havasu City, won the old bridge with a $2,460,000 bid at the City of London's auction in 1968. McCulloch then spent another $7 million to have it moved to the community he established in 1964.
The bridge's exterior granite blocks were numbered and transported by ship, then rebuilt over a reinforced concrete structure built on land in-between the main part of the city and Pittsburgh Point, a peninsula connected to Lake Havasu. After the bridge was reconstructed, the Bridgewater Channel Canal was dredged under the bridge and flooded.
It was officially dedicated at a ceremony on October 10, 1971. A Los Angeles Times report at the time called it "a bizarre ceremony combining hoary English pomp and Arizona informality." McCulloch, Sir Peter M. Studd, lord mayor of London, "other London officials, their ladies and 17th century pikemen" were in attendance, along with 25,000 spectators.
McCulloch, who died six years later, hoped the bridge would turn Lake Havasu City into a tourist magnet, anchoring a complex filled with shops, restaurants and hotels. While the "English Village" built next to the bridge often leaves visitors disappointed, the town continues to grow, its population now at 52,000 and the bridge still its main attraction.