This week in civil engineering history: The name “American Society of Civil Engineers” is introduced, March 4, 1868, New York City.
Sixteen years earlier, in 1852, following the rise and trend of professional organizations in the mid-19th century, the American Society of Civil Engineers and Architects had been founded with a gathering of 12 civil engineers at the Croton Aqueduct office in Manhattan.
Membership was restricted to "civil, geological, mining, and mechanical engineers, architects, and other persons who, by profession, are interested in the advancement of science." The Society functioned for a few years, but by 1855 had ceased holding meetings. After a period of dormancy, the Society rejuvenated in 1867 under the leadership of President James Pugh Kirkwood, whose address in 1867 was the first publication of the Society.
By 1867, prominent architects in New York City had formed the New York Society of Architects (later American Institute of Architects). The American Society of Civil Engineers and Architects then voted on March 4, 1868, by a count of 17-4, to formally change the organization’s name and remove the reference to architects, establishing what is known today as the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Reuben Hull, P.E., PMP, M.ASCE, is civil regional manager for LaBella Associates in Albany, New York, and a self-made historian who has penned numerous articles on civil engineering history. An active ASCE member, Hull is a corresponding member and former chair of the History and Heritage Committee, serves as vice president of the Mohawk-Hudson Section, served as president of the New Hampshire Section, 1999-2000, and was named New Hampshire Young Engineer of the Year in 1997.
Follow his daily Civil Engineering Almanac series on Twitter: @ThisDayInCEHist.