This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
The ultimate compressive strength of concrete is generally 2,000 pounds or over per square inch. With a factor of safety of four, a working stress of 500 pounds per square inch may be considered allowable. We may estimate that the concrete costs twenty cents per cubic foot, or $5.40 per cubic yard. On the other hand, we may estimate that the steel, placed in the work, costs about three cents per pound. It will weigh 480 pounds per cubic foot; therefore the steel costs $14.40 per cubic foot, or 72 times as much as an equal volume of concrete or an equal cross-section per unit of length. But the steel can safely withstand a compressive stress of 16,000 pounds per square inch, which is 32 times the safe working load on concrete. Since, however, a given volume of steel costs 72 times an equal volume of concrete, the cost of a given compressive resistance in steel is 72/32 (or 2.25) times the cost of that resistance in concrete. Of course, the above assumed unit-prices of concrete and steel will vary with circumstances. The advantage of concrete over steel for compression may be somewhat greater or less than the ratio given above, but the advantage is almost invariably with the concrete. There are many other advantages in addition, which will be discussed later.