Water Resource Collections and Archives


Futuristics : Innovative Transportation and Maritime Designs

Futuristics : Innovative Transportation and Maritime Designs

About the 2005 Calendar

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

Within just a few decades, San Francisco grew from a rugged outpost into a cosmopolitan metropolis, its expansion 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 need for cross-Bay transit increased. A robust ferry business initially catered to this demand, but the growing popularity of the automobile spurred the construction of bridges across the Bay. By 1927, the Antioch, Carquinez and Dumbarton Bridges had been built, and feasibility studies were underway for the Golden Gate and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridges.

Seventy-eight years after the first Bay crossing opened, the sights and sounds of major bridge construction have returned to the region. Several new bridges continue a tradition of innovative engineering and striking design.


The original Carquinez Bridge was built above the strong tidal currents of the Carquinez Strait in 1927. By 1958 the dramatic increase in Bay Area traffic levels necessitated the building of a twin bridge alongside the first. Beneath the similar truss exterior, however, the new bridge incorporated novel engineering techniques and materials, including the use of welded steel fabrication.

In 2003, after 75 years of service, the original bridge was superseded by a graceful suspension structure. Westbound drivers now cross the Carquinez Strait on the Al Zampa Memorial Bridge, its sweeping curves a contrast to the angular framework of the remaining 1958 cantilever span. The 1927 bridge is slated for demolition, a process that is expected to take up to two years.


The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge graces the San Francisco skyline with a profile famous enough to represent the city in movies and on postage stamps. When it opened in 1936, the Bay Bridge was hailed as one of the world’s greatest engineering marvels.

The Bay Bridge holds several engineering world records, including the deepest bridge pier (242 feet below water level) and the greatest diameter bore tunnel (through Yerba Buena Island). A solid anchorage for the western suspension span was created in one hundred feet of mud and more than one hundred feet of water.

Carrying 270,000 vehicles a day, the Bay Bridge is the most heavily used bridge in the United States. To meet modern seismic safety standards, work is underway to replace the eastern cantilever span. The signature element of this colossal construction project will be the world's first single-tower self-anchored suspension span, distinctive in its asymmetrical cable design. The new eastern span is scheduled to open in 2010.

Driving the Bay 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 3:48 PM by S. Haren

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