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I have a bridge I'd like to sell you

Posted by Smokey Stover on July 24, 2006

In Reply to: I have a bridge I'd like to sell you posted by David FG on July 16, 2006

: : : I was wondering where the phrase "if you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you" comes from.

: : It refers to a scam, selling someone the Brooklyn Bridge. If you'll google "Brooklyn Bridge," you'll find a lot of information on the phrase. For example, from

: : A suspension bridge built between Manhattan and Brooklyn in the late nineteenth century; Manhattan and Brooklyn are today two boroughs of New York City. At the time of its completion, the Brooklyn Bridge was the world's longest suspension bridge.

: : The Brooklyn Bridge is mentioned in several common expressions about the sale of the bridge by one person to another (the bridge is actually public property). A person who "could sell someone the Brooklyn Bridge" is persuasive; a person who "tries to sell the Brooklyn Bridge" is extremely dishonest; a person who "would buy the Brooklyn Bridge" is gullible.

: And let us not forget the supposed naiveté and gullibility of rich Westpondians travelling in Europe who were (so the story goes) prey to any smooth-talking European con-man out to profit from them by claiming ownership of (and thus the right to sell) any number of landmark buildings.

: Added to this is the (apocryphal?) story of the American who bought London Bridge in the mistaken belief that he was in fact, buying Tower Bridge.


Robert P. McCulloch bought the bridge in 1962 for $2,460,000, earned by his oil company, and knew exactly what he had. The stones were all marked before the bridge was disassembled and shipped to Lake Havasu City, developed by McCulloch as an investment. Lake Havasu had been created by the construction of Parker Dam, one of numerous dams on the Colorado River. London Bridge was reconstructed stone by stone at Lake Havasu City, and reopened in 1971. It is now close to Flagstaff, Arizona, and Sedona, mecca for all those New Age crystal-lovers. Not only do tourists flock in the thousands to Lake Havasu to get pictures of themselves at London Bridge, but hundreds of young men and women flock to Lake Havasu each summer between Spring Break and Labor Day to see how quickly they can get out of their bathing suits for a little harmless fun. Or harmful, if their parents are the unforgiving kind.

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