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MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Sacramento in Sacramento County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
 

Tower Bridge: Gateway to the Capital

 
 
Tower Bridge: <i>Gateway to the Capital</i> Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, February 24, 2009
1. Tower Bridge: Gateway to the Capital Marker
Inscription.
Identifying A Need
By the early 1930’s, Americans were moving away from trains and ships and turning to automobiles as their mode of transporation. As a result, traffic on roadways increased dramatically. In Sacramento, M Street (now Capital Mall), one of the city’s busiest routes during his period, served as a major link to U.S. Highway 40 (now West Capital Avenue and State Route 275). The Sacramento Northern Railroad Bridge spanned the Sacramento River directly north of the existing Tower Bridge. Although it could accommodate vehicles, by 1933 the bridge had reached its automobile capacity and the state recognized the need for a new crossing at M Street.

New Deal Plan
In the midst of the Great Depression, the federal government initiated New Deal programs in an effort to boost the economy and create jobs. New Deal programs focused on infrastructure projects throughout the country. A joint effort by Sacramento and Yolo Counties, the State of California, and the Federal Civil Works program made funds available for the construction of a new bridge at M Street. In early 1934, the California Division of Highways (now the California Department of Transportation) Bridge Department and the state’s Division of Architecture embarked on plans for the new bridge.

The Design
Fred
Tower Bridge: <i>Gateway to the Capital</i> Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, February 24, 2009
2. Tower Bridge: Gateway to the Capital Marker
The Tower Bridge marker is on the right, this Tower Bridge marker is in the center, the Northern Electric Bridge marker is on the left and The Tower Bridge is in the background.
W. Panhorst and George Thompson from the Bridge Department served as structural engineers for the impressive vertical-lift type bridge, and Alfred Eichler, from the state’s Division of Architecture, served as the designer. The bridge design included a rail line in the center of the deck with two lanes for increased automobile traffic on either side, along with pedestrian walkways. 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.

Building the Bridge
George Pollock & Company dismantled the old M Street Bridge and built the new structure in the summer of 1934. During the course of construction, the project employed an average of 130 workers for 16 months. Spanning 737 feet, the bridge has a vertical-lift section that is 209 feet long and rises nearly 100 feet above the Sacramento River when fully elevated. The Tower Bridge, named for its streamlined towers, was the first vertical-lift span bridge on the California highway system. The bridge deck and sidewalks were built with experimental lightweight concrete that was used later in the construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Gateway to the
Close-Up of Sketch on Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, February 24, 2009
3. Close-Up of Sketch on Marker
Ink Drawing of the Bridge Design by Alfred Eichler, 1934.
Capital

The designers gave special attention to the appearance of the bridge, creating portals that form a welcoming gateway to the City of Sacramento and the State Capitol. At a total cost of $994,000 the Tower Bridge formally opened to traffic on December 15, 1935. For the year of 1936, the American Institute of Steel Construction recognized it as “The Most Beautiful Bridge.” The bridge is exceptional as a rare example of an industrial lift bridge design in the Streamline Moderne style. In 1982, the Tower Bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its historical significance in architecture, engineering, and transportation.
 
Location. 38° 34.808′ N, 121° 30.438′ W. Marker is in Sacramento, California, in Sacramento County. Marker can be reached from Capital Mall. Click for map. This marker is located at the Capital Mall-Front Street entrance to the Water Front Promenade. Marker is in this post office area: Sacramento CA 95814, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Tower Bridge (here, next to this marker); The Northern Electric Bridge (here, next to this marker); View Near the M Street Bridge (here, next to this marker); USS Sacramento (PG-19)
Close-Up of Photo on Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, February 24, 2009
4. Close-Up of Photo on Marker
Bridge Designer Alfred Eichler, 1930
(a few steps from this marker); City Wharf and Warehouses (a few steps from this marker); The Interurban Railroad Lines (a few steps from this marker); Sacramento’s Maritime Heritage (a few steps from this marker); The United States Merchant Marine (a few steps from this marker). Click for a list of all markers in Sacramento.
 
Regarding Tower Bridge: Gateway to the Capital.

See "Nearby Marker" The Tower Bridge and an additional Tower Bridge marker, West Sacramento, Yolo County for additional information, photos and links.
 
Categories. 20th CenturyBridges & ViaductsMan-Made FeaturesNotable PlacesWaterways & Vessels
 
Close-Up of Photo on Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, February 24, 2009
5. Close-Up of Photo on Marker
Tower Bridge Under Construction,1935
Close-Up of Photo on Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, February 24, 2009
6. Close-Up of Photo on Marker
Tower Bridge (Span Lifted) Circa 1940
Close-Up of Photo on Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, February 24, 2009
7. Close-Up of Photo on Marker
View of Bridge from West Sacramento showing Original Aluminum Paint Circa Early 1960's.
Close-Up of Photo on Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, February 24, 2009
8. Close-Up of Photo on Marker
Dedication Ceremony, December 15, 1935
The Tower Bridge Photo, Click for full size
By Syd Whittle, February 24, 2009
9. The Tower Bridge
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 2,382 times since then and 103 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on , by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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