Happy Big Seven-Five, Tower Bridge!

Today, the Tower Bridge in Sacramento celebrated its 75th birthday. The bridge was originally dedicated on December 15, 1935. A great article, including pictures of the original dedication ceremony, can be found at Sacramento Press.

I'm including some pictures of Tower Bridge from my postcard collection. Note the above postcard shows the bridge and State Capitol but no Capitol Mall! That is a long post for another day, with a rich and interesting history all its own.

If you are interested in an in-depth look at the bridge, start with a brief but excellent history of the bridge at the Historical Marker Database. Additional history, construction pictures, and a look at the controls can be found here (you'll have to scroll down a bit). My favorite group of pictures is available via American Memory from the Library of Congress -- lots of black and white photos as well as sketches and plans of the bridge.

Tower Bridge was designed by Alfred W. Eichler, who was a Senior Architectural Designer for the State Department of Public Works. The bridge was the first vertical lift bridge on a California highway and was originally painted silver. According to the Historical Marker Database, "Eichler conceptualized the Tower Bridge in the Streamline Moderne architectural style, a later outgrowth of Art Deco that gained worldwide popularity between World War I and World War II (1919-1938), as the style symbolized progress, modernization, speed, efficiency, and technology."

In addition to the Tower Bridge, Alfred Eichler also designed many other state buildings throughout California. He was also a watercolor artist and photographer. You can see some of his art displayed on his great nephew's website as well as a biography.

Structural engineers Frederick W. Panhorst and George Thompson also collaborated on the Tower Bridge project. Panhorst, according to Caltrans, "served as the Chief of the Bridge Section of the California Division of Highways from 1931 to 1960. He was also a National Director of the American Society of Civil Engineers." A bridge over the Russian Gulch on Route 1 in Mendocino County is dedicated to him. A wonderful collection of Mr. Panhorst's papers can be found online.

My favorite way to drive in to Sacramento is using CA State Route 275, going over the Tower Bridge, and driving down Capitol Mall. I recommend this route to all newcomers and locals who like to mix things up and take in the scenery.

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