Building the Golden Gate Bridge: A Workers Oral History

Paperback | August 18, 2015

byHarvey Schwartz

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Moving beyond the familiar accounts of politics and the achievements of celebrity engineers and designers, Building the Golden Gate Bridge is the first book to primarily feature the voices of the workers themselves. This is the story of survivors who vividly recall the hardships, hazards, and victories of constructing the landmark span during the Great Depression.

Labor historian Harvey Schwartz has compiled oral histories of nine workers who helped build the celebrated bridge. Their powerful recollections chronicle the technical details of construction, the grueling physical conditions they endured, the small pleasures they enjoyed, and the gruesome accidents some workers suffered. The result is an evocation of working-class life and culture in a bygone era.

Most of the bridge builders were men of European descent, many of them the sons of immigrants. Schwartz also interviewed women: two nurses who cared for the injured and tolerated their antics, the wife of one 1930s builder, and an African American ironworker who toiled on the bridge in later years. These powerful stories are accompanied by stunning photographs of the bridge under construction.

An homage to both the American worker and the quintessential San Francisco landmark, Building the Golden Gate Bridge expands our understanding of Depression-era labor and California history and makes a unique contribution to the literature of this iconic span.

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Moving beyond the familiar accounts of politics and the achievements of celebrity engineers and designers, Building the Golden Gate Bridge is the first book to primarily feature the voices of the workers themselves. This is the story of survivors who vividly recall the hardships, hazards, and victories of constructing the landmark spa...

Harvey Schwartz is curator of the Oral History Collection, International Longshore and Warehouse Union Library, San Francisco. He is the author of Solidarity Stories: An Oral History of the ILWU.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:195 pages, 9.04 × 6.01 × 0.5 inPublished:August 18, 2015Publisher:University Of Washington PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0295995068

ISBN - 13:9780295995069

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Moving beyond the familiar accounts of politics and the achievements of celebrity engineers and designers, Building the Golden Gate Bridge is the first book to primarily feature the voices of the workers themselves. This is the story of survivors who vividly recall the hardships, hazards, and victories of constructing the landmark span during the Great Depression.Labor historian Harvey Schwartz has compiled oral histories of nine workers who helped build the celebrated bridge. Their powerful recollections chronicle the technical details of construction, the grueling physical conditions they endured, the small pleasures they enjoyed, and the gruesome accidents some workers suffered. The result is an evocation of working-class life and culture in a bygone era.Most of the bridge builders were men of European descent, many of them the sons of immigrants. Schwartz also interviewed women: two nurses who cared for the injured and tolerated their antics, the wife of one 1930s builder, and an African American ironworker who toiled on the bridge in later years. These powerful stories are accompanied by stunning photographs of the bridge under construction. An homage to both the American worker and the quintessential San Francisco landmark, Building the Golden Gate Bridge expands our understanding of Depression-era labor and California history and makes a unique contribution to the literature of this iconic span.Harvey Schwartz masterfully guides the reader through the exclusive, real life stories of the overlooked 'greatest generation' workers who built the Golden Gate Bridge in perilous hardscrabble working conditions that would challenge them every day. After reading these riveting stories from a time when as ironworker 'Ace' Al Zampa says, 'You could go all over San Francisco for a nickel' your next trip over the Golden Gate Bridge will never be the same. - Art Agnos, former mayor of San Francisco