Friday, November 13, 2015

An Ode to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge

Construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge [East from Yerba Buena Island, ca. 1934-35], photographed by Ted Huggins, courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS 2011.737
On the evening of November 14, 1936, in celebration of the opening of the new Bay Bridge, a grand parade was held on Market Street, complete with a “history of bridges” theme. Everything from “man’s first bridge” to Paris’ Pont Neuf was featured in the cavalcade. To have finally linked the East Bay with San Francisco was a momentous occasion, to be sure.

This Saturday, November 14, a piece of the much bally-hooed span will be unceremoniously blown up – part of the agonizingly long deconstruction of the old bridge’s eastern span. In the roster of the bridge’s 20 piers, number E3 will soon no longer be with us.

We were struck, when looking at old photos, how much the current state of the bridge resembles the bridge at the time of its construction. So here, we present evidence of the cycle of life of the built environment, not unlike that of our own.
Construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge [Eastern span, ca.1934-35], photographed by Ted Huggins, courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS2011.738
Progressive construction, San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge [Yerba Buena Island to Oakland, ca. 1934-35], photographed by Piggott, courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS2011.739

The demolition of the Bay Bridge is being done piece by piece in the opposite order of how it was built. September 25, 2014. Courtesy of ABC7.
Bay Bridge Yearbook 1935 [reprinted from the Oakland Tribune, May 1, 1935], courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS2013.1135
Gov. James Rolph, Mr. Herbert Hoover and others including Miss Alameda, Miss SF Bay Bridge, and Miss San Francisco at groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Bay Bridge, July 9, 1933, courtesy, California Historical Society, CHS2013.1290 [b]

by Alison Moore
Strategic Initiatives Liaison
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