Bridge Across Troubled Waters
We recently decided to use the back of our new business cards to pay homage to iconic Park Street Bridge connecting Alameda and Oakland. We’re doing this for a few reasons. The specific image we selected for our cards depicts the bridge design with threatening skies. We’re happy for our clients to think of us as a reliable bridge helping them past troubled waters. It doesn’t hurt that the Park Street Bridge is a cool example of highly functioning WPA civil engineering.
The Park Street Bridge is located just outside our office. We admire, use and rely on this bridge every day. It never fails us. We wanted a design that reflected our everyday environment, something a nearby and real. Something that was both tangible and that resonated with our core values. For instance, integrity, reliability, practicality, and creativity. Like the Park Street Bridge, we pride ourselves on being reliable and practical. As with nearly all of our work, the Park Street Bridge was designed to be a highly sustainable, efficient, effective and elegant solution to a problem. Like any good solution, the Park Street Bridge began with a clear problem definition. The U.S. Navy needed sail deep draft ships through the channel.
The answer was to dredge the channel to a depth of nearly 50′ and erect several drawbridges spanning Oakland and Alameda, two of which (on High Street and Park Street, respectively) were double-leaf bascule design. The High Street Bridge is barely visible at the top right of the below photo and the Park Street Bridge (green) is in the foreground. Between the Park Street and High Street bridges is the Fruitvale Bridge. This is a hybrid of a double-leaf bascule design (for automobile traffic) and a vertical-lift railroad movable bridge design for rail traffic.
The Park Street Bridge is a vital artery connecting two neighboring, but very different communities. In fact, as a symbol of that connection, the 1935 grand opening ceremony for the Park Street Bridge featured a wedding. The groom hailed from Oakland and the bride was from Alameda.
The Park Street Bridge is a fine example of “kinobi” (機能美) and “beautility” (beauty + utility).
Since its original construction in 1893, and WPA rebuilding in 1935, this 372-foot double-leaf bascule drawbridge spanning the San Francisco Bay Estuary has functioned more than 150,000 times. Impressively, after 80+ years of continuous service, the massive gear works remain practically silent, and the tolerance where the two halves meet is barely finger width.