Bridges as Symbols – The Bay Bridge

October 6, 2015 | By | Reply More

San_Francisco_China_Town_MCThe great bridges of history have been expressions of the spirit of the civilizations which produced them.

Perhaps because a bridge is both a joining together and a means of expanding human freedom, men have long recognized bridges as symbols of human and religious values.

In Roman and medieval times the major bridges were in the custody of priests who tended them with appropriate ceremonies, and often in the Middle Ages a chapel was built directly into the structure itself.

Two of Europe’s most renowned bridges, “Le Pont D’Avignon” and old London Bridge, became so much a part of the culture as to be enshrined in song and rhyme, and the latter bridge, lined with buildings, was the center of London life for six hundred years.

Brooklyn Bridge, the first of the great modern spans, was not only a tremendous engineering achievement on the part of John and Washington Roebling, tis builders, but has been recognized in art and poetry as the first large scale evidence that the Machine Age could create beauty as well as efficiency.

In a different way, the two great suspension bridges across San Francisco Bay are symbolic of the people and the times which produced them.

Like twentieth-century America at its best, they combine strength with grace; they are mighty without being ponderous; they are powerful without making their power ostentatiously evident.

11243256084_659b3b361c_bThe bridges derive their fullest significance, however, from their incomparable location on the San Francisco Bay.

The Bay Bridge is seen and understood best from a distance, where the entire structure and its setting are in full view.

See it form the ferry, crossing from Oakland, in the early evening when the water beneath it still holds the light, the silver steel towers rise high in the afterglow, and the amber lamps of its decks sweep across the sky to the dark hills and inner lighted skyscrapers of the city.

Watch it from San Francisco on a misty day when the water and the sly are a uniform gray, the far shore is invisible, and the bridge seems to be crossing undefined space toward some unknown dimension in the fog.

See it from the north on one of those clear cold days in winter when the cities and mountains of the far circling shore are visible behind it.

From here the bridge seems to embrace the entire assemblage of communities around the southern bay for a hundred miles.

The lanes of traffic on its deck are vital urban arteries.

Yet while uniting the San Francisco Bay’s cities it stands above and apart from them in a dimension of its own.

From most of downtown San Francisco, to see its deck you look up, and its towers overtop the citiy’s tallest buildings.

It looms beyond the ends of the streets like some gargantuan structure belonging more to the sly than to the earth, rising above the bay and swarming shores like a sudden, blazing affirmation.

 

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Category: Fog City - City of Fog, I left my ❤ in San Francisco

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