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San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge

San Francisco to Oakland, California
Constructed 1933-1936

Claim to Fame: The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was the longest crossing over water and most costly bridge of its time. Construction was possible due to the use of compressed-air flotation caissons.

San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge
Courtesy Flickr/Simon Li

Ever since the Gold Rush days of the 1850s, San Francisco Bay area residents and businesses had lobbied for a bridge joining San Francisco and Oakland. Early studies indicated that the bridge was impractical and infeasible; but in October 1929, President Herbert Hoover (himself an engineer) and California Governor C. C. Young appointed the Hoover-Young San Francisco Bay Bridge Commission to study the question more closely. The Commission concluded not only that the bridge was necessary to the development of the area, but that it was "entirely feasible from economic and construction viewpoints."

Local residents marveled as the Bay Bridge went up in two colossal segments, linking Yerba Buena Island to the two shores. The bridge officially opened on November 12, 1936, with a four-day celebration of one of the most remarkable engineering feats of its time.