In the battle royale between landmark San Francisco bridges, the Golden Gate will probably always get the glory. But after 70 years its sister span to the east is coming into its own. The Bay Bridge: A Work in Progress is an upcoming exhibition at the city’s De Young Museum that chronicles the earliest days of construction from 1933 to 1936.
The majority of the show is comprised of images from Peter Stackpole, a staff photographer for Life magazine who was known for his shots of California. Here, we see a particular breed of documentation that’s never not amazing: Workers grappling with super structures. There’s something about black-and-white dudes stone cold chillin’ on precarious cables and I-beams in front of a foggy skyline that is just too cool.
The Bay Bridge: A Work in Progress will be at the De Young from February 1st through June 8th. In the meantime, scroll down and ponder whether you’d have the guts to go to such great heights.
Gallows frames dot the catwalk as cable spinning begins between towers W2 and W3 by Peter Stackpole, ca. 1936.
Bay Bridge, Eastern Span Under Construction, March 22, 1936.
Bay Bridge Construction by George Booth Post, ca. 1934
Overview of Cable Spinning Operation by Peter Stackpole, 1935
Riveter Without Safety Belt Finishing Off a Tower Plate by Peter Stackpole, 1935
Pay Day (Hank Dennington and others on payday at the paymaster shack located a the base of tower W2) by Peter Stackpole, 1934
A Properly Outfitted Bridgeman with Hard Hat, Heavy Gloves, Spiked Wrenches, and Safety Line by Peter Stackpole, 1935
Iconic image of bridge construction, 1935. Photo: Peter Stackpole.
Workers hang above the bridge. Image via San Francisco Images.
The Raised Bridge by Dong Kingman, ca. 1934
Aerial view of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge under construction in 1935. Photo: San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA
Bay Bridge west span under construction, 1935. Photo: Joseph Marty/FoundSF.