Cret had built a reputation for advising on, if not actually designing, monumental structures including memorials, civic buildings, and bridges. He was educated at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, whose classical ideals were admired by proponents of the City Beautiful movement. The University of Pennsylvania offered him the professorship that brought him from Paristo Philadelphia in 1903. Cret subsequently served on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway Commission, designed the Frankford Memorial, and in 1922, consulted with engineer Ralph Modjeski on the Delaware River (Benjamin Franklin) Bridge. The Delaware River Bridge was not only Cret's first bridge project, but also happened to be the world's longest suspensionspan. The publicity it received made Cret's name, already well-known in the architecture community, familiar to engineers as well. This led to collaboration with Modjeski and his partner Frank M. Masters on bridges in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere. Desiring more of his work, Philadelphia officials tapped him to create the bridge they expected "would be one of the most artistic spans in the United States."
- Historic American Engineering Record