Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Bridge Builders: A Photography Exhibit of the Building of the New Bay Bridge East Span

As we get ready for 5 days of closure of the Bay Bridge, while the new Eastern span is connected to the rest of the Bay Bridge, Jim and I calmed our anxiety about not being able to drive over the Bay Bridge over the Labor Day weekend and several days before, by visiting what has to be the best kept secret treasure related to the building of this new Eastern span.

Just a tiny bit of background for those readers who do not live in the San Francisco Bay Area...in 1989, the Bay Area had a large earthquake (Loma Prieta Earthquake) which caused a section of the Bay Bridge to collapse.  The Bay Bridge is the main bridge connecting San Francisco to Oakland and the rest of the East Bay. It has always been a true "workhorse" bridge, carrying huge numbers of drivers every day.

After the Bay Bridge section was repaired, it was decided that the entire Eastern span of the bridge need to be replaced. That was 24 years ago.  The replacement of the bridge has been filled with politics, design debates, and, most very recently, defective bolts used in the new construction.

Finally, the fates be willing, the new Bay Bridge should be operational right after Labor Day.

At any rate, it certainly is about time and I can't wait to drive over it.

The SECRET was revealed to me last week in a letter published in the San Francisco Chronicle, a letter from a woman from Las Vegas who had been visiting San Francisco with her husband. While touring San Francisco's beautiful City Hall, they happened upon an extensive exhibit by photographer Joseph A. Blum of large color photos he took of workers building the new Bay Bridge span.

The woman noted that there were no listings of the exhibit in the San Francisco Chronicle and that every local she spoke to about it had absolutely no knowledge of the exhibit.

Today, Jim and I went to City Hall to view the exhibit.

It has been hanging since June 24, 2013 and will remain in City Hall until September 27, 2013.  It fills most of the basement level of City Hall and there are a few additional photographs in City Hall's North Light Court on the main floor. There is no fee to view this very extensive exhibit and it can be viewed whenever City Hall is open.

Joseph A. Blum is now a photographer, but, for 25 years, worked in construction as a boilermaker, ship fitter,  and welder.  He knows construction and has been chronicling the bridge construction throughout, telling his story through the eyes of the workers.

His photographs are amazing and thrilling. He's right up there with the workers...and so are you, the viewer.  And, he knows the language of construction, so, by reading his photo captions, you, too, will feel like you are right there working on this magnificent bridge and know what you are doing.

These are a few of his photos included in the exhibit.

I took us about an hour to look at all the photographs, While the City was packed with people, we met one other person in the exhibit. She, a San Francisco native, had found out about the exhibit as we had, from the letter last week in the San Francisco Chronicle

Afterwards, we walked around City Hall a bit; it's a magnificent building.

Then, we decided that we had to go to lunch somewhere with a view of the Bay Bridge.

We wound up at the Ferry Plaza Building

and chose the Ferry Plaza Seafood restaurant for our lunch with a Bay Bridge view. Note, that you can't see the Eastern span of the bridge from the San Francisco side, but we still got our bridge "fix."

Jim had a cup of New England Clam Chowder (they also serve Manhattan Clam Chowder) and half a Smoked Salmon Sandwich.

 I had a spicy Shrimp Quesadilla.

All told, a lovely San Francisco day. And, our next visit to San Francisco...maybe in 6 days...will include a drive over the new Bay Bridge!


iBeBaconbits said...

Loved this one. Saw mention on the CBS Sunday Morning show.

mary ann said...

Great reminder - we'll go next week.thanks!