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The Bay Bridge tells its story in new book and exhibit at De Young Museum

A pedestrian walks in front of the Bay Bridge, San Francisco
A pedestrian walks in front of the Bay Bridge, San Francisco
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Bay Bridge has often been the ignored stepsister to its more dramatic neighbor, the Golden Gate Bridge. Both bridges opened in the 1930s - in fact, the Bay Bridge opened in late 1936, six months before the Golden Gate Bridge opened. The Bay Bridge played a key role in Oakland and the East Bay's growth in the twentieth century, and an essential part of the Bay Area's transportation network to this day.

Thanks to the reconstruction of the eastern span, damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and replaced with a new self-anchored bridge section, completed in late 2013, the gazes of Bay Area residents have once again turned toward the Bay Bridge. A new book, published by Chronicle Books, tells the story of the conception, construction, and life of the bridge. Bay Bridge: History and Design of a New Icon, by Donald Macdonald, the designer of the new span, and Ira Nadel, focuses the bulk of its pages to the possible designs for a new span, and the details of the one that was chosen.

The De Young Museum, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, is also currently offering an exhibition that provides a unique window into the history of the Bay Bridge. Peter Stackpole was a Bay Area photographer who gained fame for his photographs and served as a staff photographer at Life Magazine. During the 1930s, Stackpole documented the building of the Bay Bridge with an extensive series of photographs. These photos, newly acquired by the museum, tell the story of the construction of the bridge and those who built it. "The Bay Bridge: A Work in Progress, 1933-1936," will be open at the De Young through June 8, 2014. For more information, visit