13 Nail-Biting Images of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

By Jordan Kushins on at

In the battle royale between landmark San Francisco bridges, the Golden Gate will probably always get the glory. But after seventy years, its sister span to the east is coming into its own. The Bay Bridge: A Work in Progress is an upcoming exhibition at the city's De Young Museum that chronicles the earliest days of construction from 1933 to 1936.

The majority of the show is comprised of images from Peter Stackpole, a staff photographer for Life magazine who was known for his shots of California. Here, we see a particular breed of documentation that's never not amazing: Workers grappling with super structures. There's something about black-and-white dudes stone cold chillin' on precarious cables and I-beams in front of a foggy skyline that is just too cool.

The Bay Bridge: A Work in Progress will be at the De Young from February 1st through June 8th. In the meantime, scroll down and ponder whether you'd have the guts to go to such great heights.


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

Gallows frames dot the catwalk as cable spinning begins between towers W2 and W3 by Peter Stackpole, ca. 1936.


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

Bay Bridge, Eastern Span Under Construction, March 22, 1936.


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

Bay Bridge Construction by George Booth Post, ca. 1934


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

Overview of Cable Spinning Operation by Peter Stackpole, 1935


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

Riveter Without Safety Belt Finishing Off a Tower Plate by Peter Stackpole, 1935


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

Pay Day (Hank Dennington and others on payday at the paymaster shack located a the base of tower W2) by Peter Stackpole, 1934


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

A Properly Outfitted Bridgeman with Hard Hat, Heavy Gloves, Spiked Wrenches, and Safety Line by Peter Stackpole, 1935


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

Bay Bridge Construction from Telegraph Hill, c. 1934. Image via San Francisco Images.


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

Workers hang above the bridge. Image via San Francisco Images.


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

The Raised Bridge by Dong Kingman, ca. 1934


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

Bay Bridge Construction from Telegraph Hill, c. 1934. Image via San Francisco Images.


13 Nail-Biting Images Of San Francisco's Bay Bridge Under Construction

West Tower of Bay Bridge, Under Construction, 1935. Image via San Francisco Images.


Lead image:Untitled (cable spinning, Telegraph Hill in the background) by Peter Stackpole, 1936