Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Old Postcard Wednesday--San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, San Francisco, California

In this old postcard the San Francisco (San Francisco-Oakland) Bay Bridge is noted as the longest bridge in the world. It is not that any longer (pun intended). At a website titled Ten Longest Bridges of the World (includes great photos of the ten in its list), #1 is listed as Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, aka The Causeway.  However, at another site (with a fantastic name, I might add!) --  
Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge comes in at #2, with the Akashi Kaykio Bridge in Kobe, Japan, given the #1 slot because the "general rule for judging the longest bridge is the length of the span" and The Causeway is supported by 9500 pilings. Even so, The Causeway is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest bridge. The Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge has its own website here, complete with traffic advisory.

See marvelous photos of the construction of the Bay Bridge at the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge website (go to the Bay Bridge main page for extensive information, including about current closures and repair). The following is beginning text at the history section of the website:
In 1936, the East and West communities of the Bay Area came together like never before. While ferries had long carried people across the Bay's often choppy waters, automobiles were the future of transportation. This meant local residents wanted a quick way to drive between the rapidly growing cities of San Francisco and Oakland. As expected, as soon as the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was built in 1936, it immediately became the favorite way to travel between San Francisco and the East Bay.
Cynics believed that the bridge would be impossible to build due to the potential impact of turbulent waters and gusty winds. Engineers had assumed that the area's high winds posed a greater threat than earthquakes, despite the bridge's proximity to two major fault lines. The varying soils and water depths, the inaccessibility to bedrock, and the unique design challenges inherent in developing a bridge to span eight miles across the Bay led some to believe that building such a bridge was unthinkable.
The largest and most expensive bridge of its time, the Bay Bridge faced not just natural obstacles, but political hurdles as well. There had been discussion of building a bridge between San Francisco and Oakland since the 1870s, but construction did not move forward until the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, with support from President Herbert Hoover, agreed to purchase bonds to be repaid later with bridge tolls.

As troublesome as recent circumstances have been for the Bay Bridge, back in 1936 its grand opening was cause for immense pride and celebration. My grandmother Nellie, living in Oakland at the time, saved (in her cedar chest now in my possession) the special section published by the Oakland-Tribune to remember the excitement of the day.

More stats and information about bridges at The Bridge Site


Margaret Pangert said...

Hi Lydia! That thing scares the living bejesus out of me! When you fly into San Francisco, you fly right over it, and the scale is utterly terrifying. I'll take BART any day! xxox

La Belette Rouge said...

I have to tell you that I am feeling lower than a snakes hips and coming here and finding this post REALLY gave me hope( it is a very LONG story so I won't post it here). But I wanted to thank you for the synchronicty.Thank you, lovely you!xoxo

Looking to the Stars said...

This is so cool. I like the fact that you have a newspaper about the Oakland bridge. What a treasure trove your grandmothers cedar chest is :)

Lydia said...

@Margaret- Hmm. I flew into SF from Reno once, but it was during my drinking days and I must have been "flying high" over the bridge because I don't remember it. 'nuf sed. :)

@Belette- Lower than a snake's hips is low, and if the synchronicity you found here helped then I couldn't be more pleased!

@Looking to the Stars- The old newspapers in the cedar chest are really fascinating. But recently I discovered some old Minneapolis newspapers online. I don't know if it was as a result of my particular topic or if old newspapers are out there to be read online (if so, that's cool).

bfk said...

I second the Oakland-part-of-the-bridge comment.

It nice to see the Oakland-side cantilever frame the San-Francisco-side suspension.

Poor Oakland. Gertrude Stein, who was raised there, said "there was no there there."

But New York wouldn't be New York without Brooklyn (and The Bronx), and The City would not be the city, without Oakland. (As an SF native, give me the A's and the Raiders anyday.)

However, it appears the the Oakland Trib artist is a bit confused geographically as he has placed Mt. Everest looming over Baghdad by the Bay.

Lydia said...

@bfk- Gertrude Stein was born in Oakland? I learned something from you today for sure. Great quote.

So, as an SF native, when you visit annually it is like the salmon spawning. Sort of.

Natch you would be the only person to notice the looming mountain in the artist's rendering (or at least to mention it). I'm not familiar enough with The City to know where Mt. Diablo and Mt. Tamalpias fit into the scene so I wasn't sure exactly what I was looking at. Now I realize it was an illusion...



Related Posts with Thumbnails