November 12, 1936
San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Opens

The idea of a bridge linking San Francisco and Oakland dates back to the gold rush days. However, as late as 1924, engineers deemed it an impossibility because of the depth and width of the bay. Backed by the support of President Herbert Hoover, an engineer himself, a commission was formed to study the project. By 1930, the commission decided that the bridge was feasible. Charles C. Purcell was placed in charge of the project. After only 3 years of construction and $77.6 million, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge opened to vehicular traffic on November 12, 1936. At the time of completion, it was recognized as the greatest bridge in the world.

This photo (courtesy of the Oakland Public Library) shows the Eastern cantilever section of the bridge under construction in 1935.

Photo of Amelia Earhart sitting on her plane.