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A little plastic bridge to the future

A replica of the Brooklyn Bridge constructed in LEGO bricks by New York resident Ben Jackson, brought to the South Butler Community Library on Tuesday, June 18. William Pitts/Butler Eagle

As the Saxonburg Museum prepares to change hands, here’s an idea for a structure for the new leadership to lean on.

In the Wednesday edition of the Eagle, staff writer William Pitts told us about a dozen LEGO maniacs who went to the South Butler Community Library on Tuesday to try their hand at replicating Saxonburg’s pride and joy, the Brooklyn Bridge.

The iconic New York City bridge was built using wire ropes created by Saxonburg’s own John Roebling. He also served as architect of the project until his death, when his son and daughter-in-law, Washington and Emily, took over.

This week, Ben Jackson brought his 13-inch-tall replica of the section of the bridge, complete with LEGO figurines of its figureheads: Washington and Emily Roebling.

Jackson came all the way from New York City, where he has lived for seven years. Prior to this, Jackson was a resident of Pittsburgh, but had never visited Saxonburg itself until last month, when he showed his bridge replica to the public at the library during a screening of a documentary on the Roebling family.

“I reached out to the Saxonburg Museum, so they were interested,” Jackson said. “That's when I actually came out to visit Saxonburg for the first time. I brought the bridge and I gave a little presentation on it.”

“I thought that would be a really cool LEGO set because the Brooklyn Bridge itself is just built with bricks,” Jackson said. “It's very easy to imagine it becoming a LEGO set.”

Jackson has submitted his Brooklyn Bridge replica to LEGO Ideas, where — as the name suggests — LEGO builders submit ideas for future officially-produced LEGO sets. If a LEGO Idea reaches 10,000 upvotes in a certain period of time, the project will be submitted to the company for “expert review.”

“When it gets to 10,000 votes, the LEGO group will take a look at your project, and they'll decide if it falls within their brand,” Jackson said. “If they like it enough, then they will adopt the set. They will probably redesign it a little bit, tweak it, and then they’ll release it to the public under the banner ‘LEGO Ideas.’”

As of Thursday, Jackson’s project has 1,428 supporters on the LEGO website, and he has 491 days to secure the remaining necessary votes.

This LEGO set campaign comes at a transitional time for the Saxonburg Museum and their Roebling wire rope workshop. The workshop building has been sinking, and it’s new nonprofit caretakers will need to raise money not just to save the structure, but for day-to-day operations. The LEGO campaign seems a great way to attract wider attention from the tiny blocks made by an international company.

Kudos to Jackson for his LEGO vision. Maybe we’ll one day see the Brooklyn Bridge LEGO kits flying off the shelves of the Saxonburg Museum gift shop.

— RJ

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