Charles J. Tilden was born in 1873. He became an assistant engineer with the New York Rapid Transit Commission from 1896 to 1930. During this time he taught civil engineering and engineering mechanics at various universities and for ten years until 1940 he was also highway research specialist for the US Bureau of Public Roads and served with the US Signal Corp in World War II as an instructor.
He retired from Yale University in 1940 as Professor Emeritus of Engineering Mechanics. He held a degree in Civil Engineering from Harvard University and an honorary M.A. Degree from Yale University. For some time he was President and Managing Director of the Eno Foundation for Highway Traffic Regulations. He was avid traveler and spent many years in Australia.