Bay Bridge,

Yerba Buena &

Treasure Island

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Picnic on Yerba Buena Island, looking towards the East Bay, October 1886

This 116 acre island, also known as Goat Island, is now the mid-point of the Bay Bridge. Established in 1868, it was originally intended for the installation of artillery batteries in defense of the Bay. However it served as a regular Army camp until 1880, when the island and the Army's improvements, were transferred to the Navy Department.

Ferries Passing under the West Tower of the Bay Bridge, circa 1935

Before the advent of the Bay and Golden Gate Bridges, the ferry-boat system was the only way in or out of San Francisco except by traveling up and down the Peninsula. Upon completion of the bridges in 1936 and 1937, travel by ferry dropped off significantly.


Bay Bridge, West Tower

The Bay Bridge originally accommodated 3 lanes of car traffic for each direction on the upper deck, while the lower deck was reserved for trucks, buses, and trains. In 1957, the railroad tracks were removed and the bridge converted to allow eastbound traffic on the lower deck, and westbound traffic on top.


Source: OPL


Construction of the Bay Bridge Caisson, 1933

The world's largest caisson (92'x197') was made at Moore Dry Docks in Oakland, to provide the concrete anchorage for the West Tower of the Bay Bridge's western span. Its construction required more concrete than New York City's Empire State Building.

Source: OPL


Steel Workers during Bay Bridge Construction c 1935

Spanning the 1.78 miles between San Francisco and Yerba Buena Island required great ingenuity . The deep water and underlying soil conditions, required new techniques for placing bridge foundations. The solution was to build two suspension bridges, with a monolithic center anchorage.



Installing Shroud on Center Anchorage, June 1936

The shroud covered eyebars and the "A-Frame" atop the middle tower to which the cable suspension system was attached. It was then filled with concrete for a rigid grip.


North catwalk of Bay Bridge August 17, 1935

Workers install 100-foot sections of wire-mesh flooring on the cables of the W2 Tower of the Bay Bridge. Two 10-foot catwalks were slung from the towers in curves corresponding to those of the future cables. Sections were hoisted to the tower tops, spliced together, and slid down the catwalks' support ropes or cables.



Bay Bridge, West Tower Under Construction, 1935

The West Tower of the Bay Bridge rises to 281 feet, and its concrete anchorage was sunk 235 feet below the water line. Its total height is taller than that of the largest of the Pyramids of Egypt.



Lighting on Bay Bridge Under Construction, December, 1935

Chosen for their soft, non-glare illumination, the sodium vapor lamps hung from the Bay Bridge's western span suspension cables were an attractive feature. The Bridge was less than a year from completion, and would facilitate significant expansion to the east bay.


Source: OPL


Bay Bridge, Eastern Span Under Construction, March 22, 1936

The eastern portion of the Bay Bridge was, at 10,176’ long, the longest cantilever construction in the world at that time. This photo shows the last section of the span being fitted into place.


Source: OPL


Bay Bridge Under Construction, circa 1934

On August 18, 1869, Joshua Norton, failed merchant, local eccentric, and self-styled Emperor of the United States, decreed that a bridge be built connecting San Francisco, Yerba Buena Island, and Oakland. 67 years later, the Bay Bridge was completed very near the points which Emperor Norton had indicated in his proclamation.



Bay Bridge Construction from Telegraph Hill, c. 193

This view over waterfront piers, shows two of the four towers of the Bridge under construction. The building of a bridge across the Bay had been a dream since the days of the Gold Rush. In 1933 construction of the Bridge was finally begun, and completed three years later.


Yerba Buena Island during construction of the Bay Bridge, c. 1935

The crossing from Yerba Buena Island to Oakland was spanned by a 10,176 foot cantilever bridge, the longest bridge of its kind at the time. To enable a shorter path across the Bay, a tunnel was created through the Island - the largest diameter bore tunnel in the world.


Source: OPL

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