Then and now: Photographing the Bay Bridge
Peter Stackpole was just 21 when he brought his Leica A to the top of the still-under-construction San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. It was 1934 - safety regulations were not what they are now, and without any official authorization, Stackpole captured stunning images. He risked his life on a site where over three years of construction 28 workers lost their lives.
San Francisco bay has seen more bridge construction in modern times. The building of a self-anchored suspension bridge connecting Yerba Buena Island to Oakland began in 2002, replacing the eastern span of the bay bridge. It has not gone un-documented.
|Photo by Peter Stackpole, 1935.|
|Photo by Joseph Blum, 2012.|
|Peter Stackpole, 1935.|
|Joseph Blum, 2012.|
Photographer Joseph Blum has captured construction of the modern bridge, a project that's a decade over schedule and millions of dollars over budget. He brought much more gear with him than Stackpole to create his set of dizzying images - 25-30 pounds of equipment at a time. Safety regulations are also considerably tighter on the bridge construction site than they were in Stackpole's time. At times, Blum's location on the bridge required him to wear a full harness as well as standard-issue hard hat, boots and glasses.
Though the tools and technology have changed, both sets of inspiring photos document a modern marvel in the making. See Stackpole's work at the Gallery of California Art at Oakland Museum of California through January 2014; Blum's work is at the San Francisco Arts Commission.