Since the founding of our company more than 125 years ago, we've seen the world transition from discrete industrial societies to a technological culture. As an integral part of this transition, the design of large-scale engineering works has proven to be an intensely human activity fueled by innovation and vision.
From its inception, Parsons Brinckerhoff has been at the forefront of this revolution. Our story is one of leadership, and our history continues to be characterized by the imprint of outstanding individuals—starting with the firm's founder, William Barclay Parsons.
An auspicious beginning with global reach
By the time Parsons opened a Manhattan office in 1885, he was already known as an ambitious and exceptional engineer. Among the first undertakings of his new venture was the design of New York City's first subway, the IRT. Completed in 1904, this line—extending from lower Manhattan to Harlem—remains part of the world's most heavily used rapid transit system. Even then, the firm had a global reach. Another of Parsons's projects was to chart a 1,000-mile railroad in China, from Hankow (Wuhan) to Canton (Guangzhou), a line that is also still in use today. Read full biography of Parsons and a history of the firm's first 100 years .
In 1906, Henry M. Brinckerhoff—a pioneering highway engineer—brought his expertise in electric railways to the firm. Known for his work on the development of the third rail—which revolutionized rapid transit—Brinckerhoff also designed the network of roads at the 1939 World's Fair in New York.
Today's comprehensive infrastructure services
From then until now, Parsons Brinckerhoff has evolved and expanded. Long recognized as one of the world's leading transportation engineering firms, Parsons Brinckerhoff now provides comprehensive services for all types of infrastructure projects including power, buildings, water/wastewater, mining and community development.
The past years have seen Parsons Brinckerhoff play significant roles on thousands of projects, including some of the most notable infrastructure endeavors of the 20th and early 21st centuries. It is these projects that tell the complete story of our heritage: The legacy of our impact around the world. It is a legacy we continue today, as we help our clients serve the public in a multitude of countries around the world.
Learn more about our heritage by reading Parsons Brinckerhoff Through the Years: 1885-2012 , an illustrated history of the firm
and Parsons Brinckerhoff—The First 100 Years ,a book by Benson Bobrick that details the history of the firm from its founding in 1885 to its centennial observance in 1985.