Water Resource Collections and Archives


Futuristics: Innovative Transportation and Maritime Designs

Futuristics: Innovative Transportation and Maritime Designs

About the 2004 Calendar

A unique calendar celebrating the golden age transportation on San Francisco Bay. Twelve superb, high-quality black & white photographs, courtesy of Caltrans, feature scenes and views taken of the Carquinez and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Within only a few decades, San Francisco grew from a rugged outpost into a cosmopolitan metropolis, driven largely by the beauty and utility of its natural harbor. As more people settled around San Francisco Bay in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the demand for cross-Bay transit increased. A robust ferry business first met this demand, but the growing popularity of the automobile in the 1920s launched an era of bridge-building that would soon eclipse the ferries. By 1927, the Antioch, Dumbarton, and Carquinez Bridges were open, and feasibility studies were underway for the Golden Gate and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridges.

Seventy-eight years after the first Bay crossing opened, some of the aging spans are being replaced to meet modern seismic safety standards. This work continues the San Francisco Bay bridge-building tradition of cutting-edge engineering matched with striking design.

The original Carquinez Bridge was built above the strong tidal currents of the Carquinez Strait in 1927. UC Berkeley engineering professor Charles Derleth, Jr., led the project as Chief Engineer. By 1958, traffic had increased so dramatically that a twin bridge was built alongside the first. Beneath the similar truss exterior, however, the 1958 bridge incorporated new engineering techniques and materials, including the use of welded steel fabrication.

In 2003, after 75 years of use, the original bridge was replaced by a suspension structure. Westbound drivers now cross the Strait on the Al Zampa Memorial Bridge, its sweeping curves a contrast to the angular framework of the remaining 1958 cantilever span.

The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge graces the San Francisco skyline with a signature famous enough to represent the city in movies and on postage stamps. Hailed as one of the world’s great engineering marvels on its opening in 1936, the bridge continues to set several world records, including deepest bridge pier and greatest diameter single-bore tunnel (through Yerba Buena Island).

The Bay Bridge today is the United States’ most heavily used bridge. Its eastern cantilever section suffered severe damage in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and work is currently underway to completely replace it with a new structure. The new span, a splendidly designed single-tower suspension bridge, is scheduled for completion in 2007. The graceful curve and soaring lift of the new span will be a major enhancement to the eastern Bay and a notable landmark for future Bay Area residents and visitors.

Building Our Bridges is produced jointly by UC Berkeley's Water Resources Center Archives and the Harmer E. Davis Transportation Library and supports their exceptional collections and programs.

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Produced jointly by WRCA and Harmer E. Davis Transportation Library

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Last modified: 4/26/2011 3:57 PM by S. Haren

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