Skip to content

Old Bay Bridge Under Deconstruction

June 25, 2014

With this post, I am taking a break from the hypocrisy and flabbergasting buffoonery of the right wing fringe extremists. Although they are amusing in their own way, I am turning my attention to something that interests me far more: photography. In this series, I will share some images of things that I find interesting and I hope that others will as well. Also, I will include some contextual narrative as well as the technical detail of how the image was captured and made.

We start with the old San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. First, a little history and background, from Wikipedia (of course):

The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge (known locally as the Bay Bridge) is a complex of bridges spanning San Francisco Bay of the U.S. state of California. As part of Interstate 80 and the direct road route between San Francisco and Oakland, it carries approximately 240,000 vehicles per day on its two decks.[3][4] It has one of the longest spans in the United States.

The toll bridge was conceived as early as the gold rush days, but construction did not begin until 1933. Designed by Charles H. Purcell,[6][7] and built by American Bridge Company, it opened for traffic on November 12, 1936, six months before the Golden Gate Bridge. It originally carried automobile traffic on its upper deck, and trucks and trains on the lower, but after the closure of the Key Systemtransit lines, the lower deck was converted to road traffic as well. In 1986, the bridge was unofficially dedicated to James B. Rolph.[8]

The bridge consists of two sections of roughly equal length; the older western section connects downtown San Francisco to Yerba Buena Island and the newer eastern section connects the island to Oakland. The western section is a double suspension bridge. Originally, the largest span of the original eastern half was a cantilever bridge. During the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, a section of the eastern section’s upper deck collapsed onto the lower deck and the bridge was closed for a month. Reconstruction of the eastern section of the bridge as a causeway connected to a self-anchored suspension bridge began in 2002; the new bridge opened September 2, 2013 at a reported cost of over $6.5 billion[9] and is currently the world’s widest bridge, according to Guinness World Records.

The San Francisco to Yerba Buena Island span was a lovely double suspension bridge. However, the Yerba Buena Island to Oakland (San Francisco’s ugly and troubled little sister) span was an eyesore from day one. It was a cantilever design that looked like it had been built from a giant erector set. All utility-no beauty.

And now it is being taken down. Although I am glad that it is no longer in service, the deconstruction of the old bridge could yield interesting images of industrial decay–a subject that I return to often. The problem is that access to Yerba Buena island is extremely limited. My friend Eric and I went on a scouting trip to see if we could, by hook or by crook, find a position that could yield interesting photography. This was only recon, and I did not even have my favorite camera or lenses to work with. We were only going to take test shots.

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than smart. Here is what we found and the image produced.

Old Bay Bridge #1

Eastern Span of Bay Bridge Under Deconstruction


For the Photo geeks:

Camera: Nikon 7100; Lens: Nikkor 18-105 zoom: Exposure: 35mm, ISO 400, f/7.1 , 1/200. BW rendering Silver e/Fex Pro 2


From → Photography

One Comment
  1. Not_Anonymous permalink

    Interesting choice of words–deconstruction. I wonder when ‘demolition’ went out of fashion or does this have some subliminal progressive overtones?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: