Vintage film of Henry Kaiser companies building the Bay Bridge

posted on September 10, 2013

Lincoln Cushing, Heritage writer

Bridge film screenshot2
Still from Kaiser companies documentary about building Bay Bridge, 1933. Click on photo to play film.

As we recently described in two previous posts, Henry J. Kaiser and his construction companies participated in several significant aspects of building the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge: securing government funding for the project, building piers on the East Bay side, providing concrete for the other bridge components, and initial painting of the bridge. We provided details and published photographs.

But nothing quite tells a story like a vintage movie does.

The Kaiser Permanente Heritage Resources archives contain hundreds of original films, and we recently digitized an 11-minute silent documentary showing the early stages of the bridge project, including the assembly of resources for pile driving and caisson building.

You’ll see workmen in felt hats scrambling over derricks, and a woman in a fur stole smashing a bottle of something nonalcoholic (prohibition didn’t end until December) to launch a mighty barge.

Bridge film screenshot1
Still from Kaiser companies documentary about building Bay Bridge, 1933

This footage includes numerous vehicles, including the  sprightly custom-built tugboat Bridgit, two special barges – the Edward H. Connor (Chairman of the Engineering Committee) and the Henry J. Kaiser (President of Bridge Builders, Inc.), and even a dirigible. How cool is that?

We share this gift from 1933.

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