Sacramento in Sacramento County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Tower Bridge: Gateway to the Capital
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.
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
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. Touch 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) 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). Touch for a list and map 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 Century • Bridges & Viaducts • Man-Made Features • Notable Places • Waterways & Vessels •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on February 26, 2009, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California. This page has been viewed 2,522 times since then and 35 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on February 26, 2009, by Syd Whittle of El Dorado Hills, California.