John, son of John and Annie was born in Wilmington, DE. The Greiner family immigrated to the U.S. in the early part of the nineteenth century from Würtemberg, Germany. Both parents were of German descent. Mr. Greiner graduated from Wilmington High School in 1877 and from Delaware College in 1880 with a B.S. He also earned the degree of Civil Engineer. He began work in the Edgemoor Bridge Works in Wilmington as a draftsman. He was later offered and accepted the position of assistant engineer in the Keystone Bridge Works and within a year was in charge of the erection of the Seventh street bridge spanning the Allegheny river at Pittsburg.
He connected with the B&O Railroad in 1886.
Mr. Greiner designed and erected just about every bridge constructed for the B&O Railroad from 1885 until 1908. From 1908 to 1941 Greiner entered private practice as a consulting engineer working on the following notable large railroad bridges over the Ohio River at Louisville, Kentucky; the Ohio River at Parkersburg, West Virginia; the Ohio River at Benwood, West Virginia; the James River at Richmond, Va.; the Alleghany and Monogahela Rivers at Pittsburgh, Pa.; architectural city ridge over the middle branch of the Patapsco River at Baltimore; over the Pequonnock River at Bridgeport, Connecticut; over the Norwalk River at South Norwalk, Connecticut; over the Tennessee River at Chattanooga; and the Memorial Bridge at Harrisburg, Pa.
Greiner built the railroad bridge over the Susquehanna River between Havre de Grace and Perryville, which earned the first prize given by the American Institute of Steel Construction for the most beautiful bridge in 1941.
Mayer McLane appointed John Greiner a member of the commission to study the buildings after the great fire of 1904 (those that were not destroyed). He later appointed Greiner to a commission whose charge was to revise the building laws in Baltimore.
Greiner today is recognized by some as one of the three major icons of American bridge engineers, the other two being John Augustus Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, and Gustav Lindenthal, the engineer for the Hell Gate Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge in New York and the Smithfield Street Bridge and the Seventh Street Bridge in Pittsburgh. Greiner received his start as resident engineer for Lindenthal on the Seventh Street Bridge project. Mr. Greiner is buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.
To design the new bridge, the city employed the nations most famous and prestigious bridge engineer, John Edwin Greiner (1859-1942) of Baltimore. In the Pantheon of Bridge Engineers, Greiner today is recognized by some as one of the three major icons of American bridge engineers, the other two being John Augustus Roebling, the designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, and Gustav Lindenthal, the engineer for the Hell Gate Bridge and the Queensboro Bridge in New York and the Smithfield Street Bridge and the Seventh Street Bridge in Pittsburgh. Greiner received his start as resident engineer for Lindenthal on the Seventh Street Bridge project.
Greiner became a bridge engineer for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He designed a patented system of constructing steel railroad bridges. As a railroad bridge engineer, Greiner designed the graceful James River and the Rappahannock River Bridges for the Fredericksburg and Potomac Railroad Company. As the country’s most famous bridge engineer, Greiner was called upon for an evaluation of the Eads Bridge in St. Louis. In 1908, Greiner left the Baltimore and Ohio and formed his own company, J. E. Greiner and Company. He was responsible for the design of the Beaux Arts Hanover Street Bridge in Baltimore, regarded by some as one of America’s most beautiful bridges. The bridge supported the roadway on cantilevered arches. On either side of the bascule opening were four small towers, a motif followed by Greiner in the new Matanzas River Bridge. The arches on the Bridge of Lions are in fact cantilevers made from riveted steel plates. As railroad bridge engineer, Greiner had observed that bridges on the New York Central were riveted steel plates rather held together by pins that as was customary in the day. There was, thus, less movement in the New York Central Bridges and they lasted much longer and could achieve a life expectancy as much as 50 years as compared with the normal life expectancy of twenty-five years. See 34, Transactions of the American Society of Civil Engineers, “Correspondence” p. 310 et. seq.
The other day at morning coffee one local bon vivant, world traveler, and man-about-town observed that he had recently travelled over the new “temporary bridge” and had looked at the new replacement Bridge of Lions and observed the riveted plates of which the arches and trusses were made.. He exclaimed, “My G–, it’s a railroad bridge!” Indeed it is. And yet, railroad bridges can be beautiful and the City’s new railroad bridge will soon reopen.
The J. E. Greiner Company, even after Greiner’s death in 1942, continued having a major influence on structures within the State of Florida. The Greiner Company served as consulting engineers for the Florida Turnpike and designed major improvement to the Tampa Airport. Indeed, when the writer was with the state of Florida, he had an architectural rendering of the Tampa Airport prepared by the Greiner Company hanging over the sofa in his office. It clearly showed a 747 taking off from a taxi strip. The J.E. Greiner Company also served as engineers in the construction of the new Denver Airport. It also solved the mystery of the crack in the Sunshine Skyway supports. In 1969, the company was acquired by Easco Engineering Corp.