A fortunate discovery

I am always on the look out for interesting old Black and White photographs, including family snapshots from 1900 to about 1960-70’s. So finding these three images to add to my collection would have been anything but special, except that after closer examination of one of the prints, I made a fortunate discovery.

What made these three images now special, at least to me, is their historical value, which at first glance is not obvious, neither to the sales person selling me the photographs. We see the same construction worker in all three prints and one can guess these are from about the 1930s to maybe the early 1940s. Yet after munch closer observation, it is clear that he is standing on top of a bridge, the Bay Bridge during its construction. Though it is not the Golden Gate that spans between San Francisco and Marin Headlands, the Bay Bridge opened six months before the Golden Gate Bridge.

Construction worker on the Western Span of the Bay Bridge, circa 1934/35

The photographer is facing east, with his back to San Francisco and the landmass behind the unidentified construction worker happens to be Yerba Buena Island, (formerly known as Goat Island in 1870s), where in 1939 the Worlds Fair was held. 

Close-up of the print

What also makes the photograph very special is having the ferry, the Alameda present in the lower left hand corner, which just happens to pass by, heading for the City of Oakland.

The Bay Bridge was conceived as early as the ‘Gold Rush’ years, but construction did not begin until July 9, 1933. The bridge was designed by Charles H. Purcell and build by the American Bridge Company, and the chief engineer was Ralph Modjeski. The bridge opened for traffic on November 12, 1936 at 12:30 p.m., six months before the completion of the Golden Gate Bridge.

For a timeline to the present date, with numerous photographs can be seen at the official Bay Bridge website.

All photographs taken with the iPhone 4S, processed using Photoshop and Snapseed.
Copyright ©2012 Egmont van Dyck

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