362. Concrete composed of broken stone, fragments of brick, pottery, gravel and sand, held together by being mixed with lime, cement, asphaltum or other binding substances, has been used in construction to resist compressive stress for many ages.
The Romans used it more extensively than any other material, as the great masses of concrete, once the foundations of large temples, palaces and baths, the domes, arches and vaultings still existing, together with the core or interior portions of nearly all the ancient brick-faced walls found in Rome, testify.
In the forest of Fontainbleau there are three miles of continuous arches, some of them fifty feet high, part of an aqueduct constructed of concrete and formed in a single structure without joint or seam. A Gothic church at Vezinet, near Paris, that has a spire 130 feet high, is a monolith of concrete. The lighthouse at Port Said is another, 180 feet in height.
The breakwaters at Port Said, Marseilles, Dover and other important ports, are formed of immense blocks of concrete. The water pipes and aqueduct at Nice, and the Paris sewers, are also notable modern constructions of the same material.
In England and France thousands of dwellings have been built of concrete, in place of brick and stone. Many of these are now standing, after more than half a century, without the least sign of decay. In the United States concrete buildings are comparatively few, the only notable building not of recent date being the large barn built at Chappaqua, N. Y., by Horace Greeley, more than thirty-five years ago, of an ordinary kind of concrete; this building has stood the test of exposure and is as good to-day as when built.
The architects, engineers and capitalists of the United States appear to have been the most timid of those of all civilized nations to avail themselves of the value of concrete as a building material, and it is only since the year 1885 that this material has been used to any extent in the construction of buildings except for the purpose of footings of foundation walls.
Suitable materials for making concrete are available in almost every locality, and in most places solid walls of concrete are cheaper and more enduring than those of brick or stone.
A concrete building needs no furring, as the walls are proof against dampness, and in a monolithic construction of concrete no possible -danger to the structure can arise from fire within or without the building.
While concrete in any form is not likely to take the place of stone, brick or terra cotta for architectural work to any great extent, yet the author believes that in combination with iron and steel it is destined to fill a large place in the construction of buildings, and that for warehouses, large stables, wine cellars, etc., it is the best and cheapest material for producing substantial and incombustible work. The author also believes that in many localities cottages and larger dwellings could be advantageously built of concrete, and with a decided gain in durability and comfort.