-- Historic American Engineering Record
I'm researching and creating a print for the Sacramento Art Deco Society celebrating Art Deco in Sacramento. SADS Board Member Bruce Marwick shared with me the attached photo he found at the California State Archives of an original drawing by the then State Architect, Alfred Eichler. Eichler was State Architect from approximately 1930 to 1960. This drawing, in the artists hand, is one of the first conceptual renderings of the famed Tower Bridge.
Number 18 is a beauty Mike!
This bridge is just amazing at night, I couldn't stop taking photos of it. I added a few, but I am getting a server error so I might try again another time to add a couple more.
Tower Bridge, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, was most recently rehabilited in 2007-2008 or thereabout. At that time the sidewalks on either side of the bridge were widened from 3 to 10 feet, as part of a "transportation enhancement" project. Earlier, the bridge was repainted gold. It had been painted gold in 1976 as part of the bicentennial and to match the dome on California's State Capitol. When it came time to be repainted, Caltrans held a contest to pick the color, one of which was gold. The other two colors were to be based on Raley Field baseball colors -- non historic and not compatible to the bridge. Fortunately, Sacramentans chose gold.
Interestingly, the contest did not have its original color, silver. The silver color was part of why the bridge is historic. When the bridge was built, bridges typically were painted black. With the Tower Bridge, the Division of Highways had to get special permission to paint this Art Deco bridge silver. While the color is a classic Art Deco color, the reason the engineers wanted to paint the bridge silver was to see if inspectors could spot cracks and fissures better than is possible with black bridges. So, the current gold color is compatible and at least echoes the Art Deco architecture and original reason for painting the bridge metallic.
Also, when Caltrans relinquished state Route 275, neither the City of West Sacramento nor Sacramento wanted to take the bridge, so the State still owns it. This has got to be the shortest state route in the state--its length is the length of the bridge and its approaches.
Just visited this bridge today, 7-18-09. It's interesting that from a distance the bridge looks like it is painted yellow, but when you get a close look at it you realize that it is painted a beautiful sparkling metalic gold that looks different from every angle you look at it. Also, the walkway on the outside of the bridge was widened at some point. You can see the original pedestrian safety gates that retract into the side of the guard rail when not in use, but they aren't wide enough to span the new additional sidewalk. Newer gates were installed to close the widened sidewalk during bridge lifts. Just as interesting as this bridge is an old double deck swing bridge just up-stream of this one...maybe two blocks away. The lower deck carries railroad traffic....I rode the Amtrak over it today....and the upper deck carries vehicular traffic. The bridge looks really really old and I can't imagine that they aren't getting ready to replace it in the very near future. It doesn't look like it swings open any more, but maybe someone from Sacramento can comment here and tell us more about that. However, there is a vertical lift rail bridge across the Carquinez straights and it is very much in operation as of today. The train had to stop to let a fully loaded oil tanker pass under the tracks. However we easily passed the tanker further down the bay. I guess that's why the train yielded to the tanker at the bridge. The highway bridges on either side of the rail bridge are high enough.
Looking east down the length of the tower bridge in Sacramento you can look across downtown Sacramento and see the California State Capitol building. Over all, I'd say this is a FASCINATING area to visit. The Amtrak train depot is walking distance from it all. Old Town Sacramento too. Very near the train depot...and here is why I mention it on this bridge enthusiast web site....near the train depot is a railway museum....and inside the museum is lots of train stuff as you can imagine....but one of the exihibits is a locomotive sitting on a 100+ year old though-truss bridge!!!!...INSIDE the museum. They have recreated a wooden tressle also, elevated to a second floor level and also with a locomotive on it. Beautifully preserved. Lots of fun. It was 105 degrees in Sacramento today. Whew!