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just in time for the 1825 building of the Erie
Canal, which created the first big American
demand for concrete.
“The steel industry gave the big boost
to concrete,” says Younger. “The material by
itself can’t resist compression; that’s where
steel rebar came in. Crane’s father was a pioneer of the early steel industry.” Short for
“reinforcing bar,” steel rebar consists of steel
wires that strengthen and hold the concrete in
tension. Rebar’s surface is often patterned to
form a better bond with the concrete.
ASR occurs when potassium in the
cement becomes alkaline and reacts with the
silica in the sand. Affected by weather and the
amount of water in the mix, the reaction produces a gel that absorbs water and swells as it
fills rebar-created air pockets; ASR breaks up
the concrete from within, initially evidenced
by a mosaic of surface crazing.
At Castle Hill, the Casino (Italian for
“little house”) complex is a beguiling survivor, along with parts of the formal garden.
The estate, which included the original Great
House, was designed in the Italian Renais-