Monday, May 21, 2012

Jason goes to the Niles Film Museum for a history lesson in Bay Area Bridges

Sunday was my normal day of volunteering at Niles. The gift shop was hopping with people attending the Niles Wildflower, Art, Garden, and Quilt show (Niles is quite an interesting place) and coming in to buy $2 charms they collect from all the local merchants (this year, ours was a little director's chair.)

Anyway, that's completely off topic, at 4:00, right at the end of my shift, we had a little program to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. First our very own museum president Dorothy Bradley gave us an overview of the history of all the major Bay Area bridges. As someone who has only lived in the Bay Area about a dozen years, it's interesting to think that it wasn't that long ago when the Bay Area was connected more by ferries than bridges.

Anyway, then Larry Hees gave a presentation on the history of railroad bridges in the Niles Canyon and the immediate vicinity. Quite an interesting amount of local history.

And then the highlight of the afternoon, they showed THE BRIDGE BUILDERS, a documentary made By Ray Hubbard for KPIX Television in 1962 (for the GG Bridge's 25th anniversary.) It's a rather stirring tribute to the brave, clever, and hardy men who built the Golden Gate Bridge when a lot of self-appointed experts said it couldn't be done. It was too large a span for a suspension bridge, the currents, winds, fog, etc. would be too hard to deal with. Or they argued it could but shouldn't be done. It would destroy the natural beauty of the Golden Gate (now it's become an icon, of course.) Or it cost too much during the Great Depression (of course, it created a lot of jobs.) Or it would attract too many picnickers from Marin County taking day trips into the city (ummm...I don't live in the city, but isn't it the reverse? San Franciscans escape to Marin County for a day in the country?) Mostly, the movie features dizzying shots from atop the half-constructed bridge, with workers hanging on what looks like the most delicate of wires. Pretty amazing stuff, and certainly triggers my sense of acrophobia.

Running Time: 26 minutes
My Total Minutes: 286,123

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