Bay Bridge History

Proposed San Francisco Bay Bridge
Proposed San Francisco Bay Bridge
Sketch Drawing of Proposed San Francisco-Oakland By Bridge (1913) from Overland Monthly, April 1913. By Mike Cline, via Wikimedia Commons.
Ground-Breaking Celebration Program (1933)
Ground-Breaking Celebration Program (1933)
(credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
Ground Breaking Program Inside (1933)
Ground Breaking Program Inside (1933)
(credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
GROUNDBREAKING (1933)
GROUNDBREAKING (1933)
The groundbreaking ceremony took place on July 9, 1933 when construction began on the longest bridge in the world at that time. It took three years and five months to complete the Bay Bridge. The final bridge cost was approximately $77 million, $6 million under the estimated cost. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
West Span Anchorage at Yerba Buena Island
West Span Anchorage at Yerba Buena Island
(credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
Cable Saddle atop West Span Tower
Cable Saddle atop West Span Tower
(credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
San Francisco Cable Anchorage
San Francisco Cable Anchorage
(credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
KAISER SHIPBUILDING IN OAKLAND (1933-1936)
KAISER SHIPBUILDING IN OAKLAND (1933-1936)
Kaiser Shipbuilding Company, a creation of American industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, was established in the 1930's to help meet the construction goals set by the United States Maritime Commission during World War II. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
CONSTRUCTION BEGINS (1933)
CONSTRUCTION BEGINS (1933)
A tugboat towed a barge to be loaded with soil from the excavation on Yerba Buena Island. Further west were the caissons for Pier 6. American Bridge was the primary contractor for the construction of the original bridge, and is also building portions of the new bridge! (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
WORKERS (1933-1936)
WORKERS (1933-1936)
More than 8,300 men worked on the original Bay Bridge. The workforce was not unionized except for eight unionized crafts. The average wage was $7.75 per hour, and all the workers were men. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
West Span Towers
West Span Towers
(credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
SF/Oakland Bay Bridge Construction
SF/Oakland Bay Bridge Construction
Closeup view taken by the airship USS Akron of Yerba Buena Island to document progress of the construction of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. U.S. Navy photograph dates from mid July 1935. (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Bay Bridge Construction Aerial Above SOMA (1935)
Bay Bridge Construction Aerial Above SOMA (1935)
(credit: FoundSF.org)
WORKER STORIES (1933-1936)
WORKER STORIES (1933-1936)
So I shall never forget the day I first set foot on the Bay Bridge catwalk...nothing but a little wire mesh and a lot of open air between me and the bay below. The worst aspect was not being able to show any fear. Those steelworkers were merciless, and to preserve our self-respect we had to act nonchalant and follow along, walking those beams and planks, climbing though small holes and hanging by our teeth even though our clothes were drenched with cold sweat.Ó- Arthur L. Elliot, Engineer (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
WORKER STORIES (1933-1936)
WORKER STORIES (1933-1936)
When steel worker Al Zampa was asked about his favorite bridge he replied, "My favorite? Bay Bridge. Jesus, look at her. Two suspensions end to end, six different kinds of bridges, 8 ¼ miles long, deepest piers in the world. We lost 24 men; we dangled up there like monkey’s driving shot iron. No net. You fell, that was it. They thought we was all crazy.” (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
WORKER'S STORIES (1933-1936)
WORKER'S STORIES (1933-1936)
A high steel worker named Joe Walton claimed responsibility for the myth that a man was buried in the concrete on the center anchorage. He and his friends played a prank and packed a pair of shoes into the concrete on the center anchorage, which quickly spread the rumor that someone was buried there. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
CABLE CONSTRUCTION (1933-1936)
CABLE CONSTRUCTION (1933-1936)
The actual cable spinning operation involved carrying wire from one anchorage to the next, over the tops of the towers. While it followed a predictable process, this operation was also among the most technically challenging, requiring the services of skilled workmen at nearly every juncture and subjecting the workmen to the greatest danger. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
Original West Span under construction
Original West Span under construction
(credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
YERBA BUENA ISLAND TUNNEL (1933-1936)
YERBA BUENA ISLAND TUNNEL (1933-1936)
There were many engineering challenges because of the physical conditions of the Bay. The center anchorage was larger than any building in San Francisco and the Yerba Buena Island tunnel was the largest bore tunnel in the world at the time. It remains the largest bore tunnel in the world. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
A RACE TO THE FINISH (1936)
A RACE TO THE FINISH (1936)
Construction work on the West Span high above the Bay only nine months before completion. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
ENGINEERS (1933)
ENGINEERS (1933)
Bridge engineers (l-r) Charles E. Andrew, C. H. Purcell and Glenn Woodruff inspect the West Bay crossing of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Charles Henry Purcell was the Chief Engineer for the Bay Bridge. It was customary in that time to give credit to one engineer, but in reality not one person could have executed a project of this caliber. He relied heavily on a team of experts and an engineering committee. (credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
BAY BRIDGE GETS THE GREEN LIGHT (1936)
BAY BRIDGE GETS THE GREEN LIGHT (1936)
When the ceremonies were completed, President Roosevelt telephoned workers on two sides of the bridge to flash a green light to signal the bridge was officially open. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
GREATEST TRAFFIC JAM IN SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY (1936)
GREATEST TRAFFIC JAM IN SAN FRANCISCO HISTORY (1936)
All the ceremonies were very well attended with more than one million people at the parade alone. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the opening caused "the greatest traffic jam in the history of San Francisco". (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
PARADE TICKETS (1936)
PARADE TICKETS (1936)
A ticket to both opening parades cost only $2.50! (credit: California State Archives/baybridgeinfo.org)
PAGEANT QUEENS (1936)
PAGEANT QUEENS (1936)
Miss Berkeley, International Queen, and Miss Oakland are holding the chain barrier of the bridge at the opening ceremony. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
Spotlights off San Francisco Illuminate the Sky
Spotlights off San Francisco Illuminate the Sky
(credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
THE BAY BRIDGE POEM (1933-1936)
THE BAY BRIDGE POEM (1933-1936)
How many minds and hands are joined to rear - This towered path across the tide-swept bay! - Men pitied Norton, but the engineer - Has made his dreams reality. Today - Gaunt towers pierce the foggy shroud of night - And flood-lights gleam on blocks of man-made stone - That bind to rock, against the waterÕs might - An highways, such as gods did never own! - Do they, secure in their place on high - Cold and undreaming, prideful of their sway - Feel, as they tread their yet unspoiled domain - That track that we fling across their virgin sky - Is sacrilege? Surely, they too must pray - That this, a madmanÕs dream, we shall attain! (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Toll Plaza (1937)
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Toll Plaza (1937)
In its first year the Bay Bridge served 9 million vehicles. The toll to cross the bridge was 65 cents in each direction, which is equivalent to $8 today! (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
Toll Collectors (1937)
Toll Collectors (1937)
Motorist Jerie Deane is paying toll collector Peter Weaver at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
Train Service on the Bridge (1938)
Train Service on the Bridge (1938)
Train service across the Bay Bridge began on September 23, 1938 and ended in April 1958. The upper deck carried three lanes of automobile traffic in each direction, while the lower deck carried three lanes of truck and auto traffic on the north side and two railroad tracks on the south side. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
A Ticket to Ride (1938)
A Ticket to Ride (1938)
A ticket for a vehicle to cross the Bay Bridge in 1938. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
Speed Decreased on the Bay Bridge (1950)
Speed Decreased on the Bay Bridge (1950)
Bay Bridge speed limit being changed from 45 mph to 40 mph in 1950. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
BRIDGE SAFETY (1950)
BRIDGE SAFETY (1950)
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge safety rules issued by the California Highway Patrol. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
Bay Bridge West Span (1950)
Bay Bridge West Span (1950)
Aerial view of the Bay Bridge in 1950. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
THE FERRY (1958)
THE FERRY (1958)
A ferry boat in Alameda with crowded with commuters in 1958. Before the bridge was built the ferry was the primary transportation for commuters between San Francisco and Oakland. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
KEY SYSTEM (1958)
KEY SYSTEM (1958)
Passengers boarding a Key System train in 1958. The Key System consisted of local streetcar and bus lines operating solely in the East Bay, and a network of commuter rail and bus lines connecting the East Bay to San Francisco via the lower deck of the Bay Bridge. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
THE BIG CHANGE (1963)
THE BIG CHANGE (1963)
After the closure of the Key System the Bay Bridge was reconfigured to have five westbound lanes on the upper deck and five eastbound lanes on the lower deck. Reconstructing the double-deck roadways within Yerba Buena Island tunnel was a major engineering feat. (credit: CalTrans/baybridgeinfo.org)
THE BAY BRIDGE 50TH BIRTHDAY (1986)
THE BAY BRIDGE 50TH BIRTHDAY (1986)
The 50th anniversary celebration of the Bay Bridge began in November, 1986. The series of lights adorning the suspension cables on the West Span was added as part of the bridge's 50th anniversary celebration. (credit: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library/baybridgeinfo.org)
LOMA PRIETA STRIKES (1989)
LOMA PRIETA STRIKES (1989)
At 5:04 p.m. on October 17, 1989, a 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck the Bay Area. The upper deck at pier E9 on the Bay Bridge failed and crashed into the lower deck, also causing the lower deck to fail. The suspension bridge on the West Span is inherently more flexible and was able to withstand the earthquake. It was the rigid structure of the truss bridge on the East Span that made it more susceptible to failure.

The third game of the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Athletics was set to begin at 5:30 p.m. at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. Many commuters were listening to the game on their radios as they sat in traffic. There was one fatality on the Bay Bridge, which was a result of confusion around exiting the bridge after the failure.

The bridge was then closed for a month-long repair. At that time, it was determined that the bridge needed a long-term solution, which resulted in the retrofit of the West Span and replacement of the East Span.

(credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
Photo shot 22 OCT 89 shows a collapsed portion of
Photo shot 22 OCT 89 shows a collapsed portion of
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 22: Photo shot 22 OCT 89 shows a collapsed portion of the Bay Bridge at Oakland after the earthquake that rocked northern California. (Photo credit should read GARY WEBER/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo shot on October 22, 1989 shows a c
Photo shot on October 22, 1989 shows a c
Photo shot on October 22, 1989 shows a collapsed portion of the Bay Bridge at Oakland after the earthquake that rocked northern California. (Photo credit should read GARY WEBER/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo shot on October 22, 1989 shows a c
Photo shot on October 22, 1989 shows a c
Photo shot on October 22, 1989 shows a collapsed portion of the Bay Bridge at Oakland after the earthquake that rocked northern California. (Photo credit should read GARY WEBER/AFP/Getty Images)
THE BAY BRIDGE TROLL (1989)
THE BAY BRIDGE TROLL (1989)
The Bay Bridge Troll was placed on the Bay Bridge during repairs after the 1989 earthquake as a symbol of protection. A group of ironworkers affixed the 18-inch sculpture without knowledge or consent from Caltrans, and it was later discovered by a maintenance worker. It is said to be created by a local Bay Area blacksmith. The troll first came to the public's attention on January 15, 1990 when the San Francisco Chronicle ran a story about the small figure of a troll with a spud wrench that had been welded to the iron below the upper deck on the north side of the bridge. When the original east span is demolished, the troll will be relocated. (credit: baybridgeinfo.org)
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (1994)
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (1994)
Upper Deck Oakland Side of The Bay Bridge (1994)
Upper Deck Tunnel (1994)
Upper Deck Tunnel (1994)
Upper Deck Tunnel Entrance Towards San Francisco (credit: Wikimedia Commons)
A New San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (2002)
A New San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (2002)
Construction began on the new Bay Bridge. The West Span would be retrofitted through reinforcement and the East Span would be replaced entirely with a new design, including the worldÕs longest Self-Anchored Suspension Span. The new Bay Bridge is scheduled for completion in 2013 and cost an estimated total of $6.3 billion dollars making it one of the largest public works projects in US history. (credit: Caltran/baybridgeinfo.org)
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