Seventy-five years ago today, President Franklin Roosevelt
pressed a telegraph key in Washington signaling the official opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Some 300,000 spectators witness the dedication of what United Press called "the world's superlative engineering achievement."
Indeed, at 23,000 feet long (8-1/4 miles with approaches), the Bay Bridge dwarfed other great spans around the world. Costing $77 million (in 1936 dollars), the double-deck bridge took more than three years to build. At the time of its opening the upper deck was devoted to passenger vehicles, the lower deck to suburban trains.
A Bee editorial rhapsodized about the "massive and impressive structure:"
What influences on the future development of the bay district and of Superior California generally the bridge will set in motion today are speculative.
Some have one theory, others another.
But that they will work for progress and human comfort and convenience is certain.
And the bridge itself -- massive and yet simple, impressive but with a beauty that even a dullard can see -- is a monument to another great dream realized, a structure that will stand firm and strong long after all those who had a part in its construction have departed forever.
Men will come from all parts of the world to see and say to themselves: Titans must have walked this way.
PHOTO CREDITS: Associated Press photographs taken a few days before the opening of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Nov. 12, 1936. (top) One of the on-ramps, winding up from the waterfront at right and an off-ramp at left with the main incline in center. (bottom) A motorist's view of the great span when driving toward the great tunnel on Yerba Buena Island toward the Oakland shore.