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Spanning the Bay
Celebrating the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge 

How to Bridge the Bay

An Engineering and Construction Marvel

Opening Day Celebration

Golden Gate International Exposition

Margaret Monroe Memorabilia

The Bay Bridge as a Promotional Tool

The 50th Anniversary

Loma Prieta

New Bridge

We Built the Bridge

Preliminary Drawings

The Intrepid Diver

What's In a Name?

Faces of Workers Photos

MINERVA Archives Online Catalog

<- Online Exhibits

Spanning the Bay — An Exhibit Celebrating the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Poster.    Spanning the Bay — An Exhibit Celebrating the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Poster.

In 1956, the American Society of Civil Engineering selected seven engineering wonders of the modern world. It named a bridge that crossed the waters of San Francisco Bay as one of these wonders, but it was not the picturesque Golden Gate Bridge. Instead, the often-overlooked San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge received the accolade. Impressively, the bridge's design combined the three different types of bridge building technology over the eight miles it covered between San Francisco and Oakland. At the time of its completion, the bridge was the longest steel structure, had the deepest pier, and largest diameter tunnel in the world. The Bay Bridge represents the realization of this dream and stands as testament to the accomplishments of Californians.

The bridge was constructed from May 1933 to November 1936, under the direction of the state Toll Bridge Authority. Chief State Highway Engineer Charles Purcell and an advisory board of world-renowned engineers selected the route, design, and form of this engineering marvel. These engineers had to the meet with numerous challenges to complete the construction, most notably finding a way to build a suspension span between Yerba Buena Island and San Francisco, a length too far for conventional bridge building technology. The final solution was to essentially construct a man-made island in the middle of the bay that would serve as an anchor for the suspension spans.

This exhibit celebrates the history of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, from the dream of a bridge in the 19th century to its construction in the 1930s and on to its 50th anniversary, and finally to the current-day construction of a new eastern half. It also highlights the individual, the bridge dreamers and designers, the faces of a 1930s workforce, and even featured contributor Margaret Monroe who donated much of the material featured in this exhibit. The State Archives is proud to present this exhibit and would like to extend its gratitude to Margaret Monroe for the generous donation of her collection of Bay Bridge materials and to graphic designer Jeff Moore for creating the exhibit poster.

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