The western span of the Bay Bridge in 1973. KQED
The western span of the Bay Bridge in 1973. (KQED)

Happy Birthday, Bay Bridge: Here's How You Looked in the 1970s

Happy Birthday, Bay Bridge: Here's How You Looked in the 1970s

Daily commuters may extend their well wishes through gritted teeth, but congratulations are nonetheless in order: The Bay Bridge was first opened to traffic 83 years ago today.

After three years of construction, the Bay Bridge greeted its public on Nov. 12, 1936 — a whole six months before its glitzier sibling, the Golden Gate Bridge, debuted on May 27, 1937.

For the next quarter-century, until 1962, trucks and trains traveled in both directions on the lower deck of the Bay Bridge, with cars driving in both directions on the deck above them.

To mark the occasion, we reached into our archives to bring you this short video showing what the Bay Bridge (and its traffic) looked like in the 1970s, when the span was merely in its 40s and those trains had been gone a decade or so.

The clips are from 1971, 1973 (color) and 1979, so watch and transport yourself back to a time when markedly fewer cars made the bay crossing, and the toll was a whole 75 cents.

(We're always turning up gems like this in the KQED archives, from rare footage of a 1968 San Francisco drag ball to glimpses of the Castro District in the 1970s. Follow KQED on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to see them first.)

If you're a Bay Bridge fan, take a look at its starring role in Hollywood movies like "The Graduate," and the prototype for a new Bay Bridge that Frank Lloyd Wright never got to build. 

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