The Working Man’s Bridge

In the imagination, the Bay Bridge has always been overshadowed by its 8 month-younger sister, the Golden Gate Bridge. A graceful necklace draped from the trees of the Presidio to the cliffs of bucolic Marin County, the fog-shrouded orange bridge seems to put a finishing touch on the romantically scenic Golden Gate.

By contrast, the Bay Bridge is rooted in the grit of the Port of Oakland, crosses the bay in multiple disparate spans, and trusts itself deep into the heart of San Francisco to be anchored in the bedrock of Rincon Hill. In 1936, the year the bridge opened,  it carried 9 million vehicles, a volume of traffic not predicted to be reached until 1950. Today the bridge carries over 100 million vehicles per year, twice that of it’s more poetic sister.

While the Golden Gate Bridge sits within its natural picture frame, the Bay Bridge is part of the city. It soars over the working waterfront, towers of luxury condominiums rise against its flanks, it is part of the landscape of most neighborhoods. It is a stolid folk symphony of concrete and steel.

Night Panorama from Twin Peaks
Night Panorama from Twin Peaks
San Francisco Skyline at Night from Yerba Buena Island
San Francisco Skyline at Night from Yerba Buena Island

However, the Bay Bridge may finally be getting the attention it deserves. See this quote from CNN:

San Francisco’s lesser-known bridge unveiled a new look Tuesday night. As part of a unique art project celebrating its 75th anniversary, the West span of the Bay Bridge has been outfitted with 25,000 LED lights that will display a variety of undulating designs nightly for the next two years.
Organizers say it is the world’s largest light sculpture.
“Light has a very universal quality, almost anyone can see it and have some response to it. It’s operating on a very primal level,” said artist Leo Villareal, who has been working on the project for the past two and a half years. He says his goal with the Bay Bridge installation was to create a “digital campfire.”
Now the Bay Bridge is “ART”!

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