Tower Bridge – Sacramento CA


"On a cold December day in 1935, thousands of the citizens of Sacramento, California gathered at the end of M Street to celebrate the dedication of their city's new landmark. An accumulation of sixteen months of hard work, almost one million dollars and cooperation between local, state and federal government agencies along with private contractors, the Tower Bridge was ready to be dedicated and opened to the public. The first vertical lift bridge on the California Highway System, the Tower Bridge was described as "inextricably linked with symbolism of the future." Hailed both for its architectural design and streamlined appearance, the Tower Bridge was a welcomed addition to the landscape of a rapidly growing community. Built to decrease a growing traffic problem and beautify the main entrance to California's Capitol City, the Tower Bridge instilled pride in a community trying to become a major city. Frank Merriam, the Governor of California and the last speaker at the dedication ceremony of the new bridge, stood at a podium located at the foot of the great new structure, looked out over the mass of people gathered, gazed at the State Capitol ten blocks away and stated, "California during the depression has been a bridge building state. And the bridge right here is the most beautiful."

The Tower Bridge was built to replace the old M Street Bridge…By 1932, the M Street Bridge had become obsolete and could no longer handle the automobile and rail traffic entering and exiting Sacramento…

Construction of the Tower Bridge would be incredibly expensive, especially in a time when the country was in the midst of the Great Depression. The original cost estimate of the Tower Bridge was $700,000.Many felt that this initial cost estimate was too much money to spend during a time when one-fourth of the nation's labor force was out of work.To make matters worse, the initial cost estimate was premature. After the designs for the bridge were completed in June 1934, and work began, the cost estimate rose to $900,000…

Construction of the Tower Bridge began on July 20, 1934. The Tower Bridge was constructed by the State Department of Public Works in cooperation with the City of Sacramento, the Counties of Sacramento and Yolo, and the Federal Government. George Pollock & Company was the construction company that was awarded the contract bid to build the Tower Bridge. Alfred Eichler, the legendary architect of the State Department of Public Works, was chosen to complete the designs of the bridge. The concrete piers that supported the bridge were the first part of the bridge to be constructed. The construction crew created concrete foundations that extended sixty feet under the high water level of the Sacramento River. The construction crew then had to build the temporary bridge for use by the Sacramento Northern Railroad. Next came the removal of the old M Street Bridge. The crew completed this task on March 11, 1935 and then began the hardest part of the construction…

The construction of the Tower Bridge created 1500 jobs in a time when the Sacramento area was feeling the effects of the Great Depression.George Pollock, the contractor whose company built the Tower Bridge, commented at the dedication ceremony of the new bridge, "Over 1500 men were directly employed on the job. Many hundreds more labored in the mills and the shops, rolling and fabricating steel." The Federal Government mandated that all day laborers on any public works project that accepted federal money must reside within the county that the work was being done. The construction site had an average of 130 workers at a time working on the bridge for the entire sixteen month period it took to build the bridge."

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s
700000 974000

Source notes

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Location Info

M Street
Sacramento, CA

Location notes:

Coordinates: 38.580500, -121.508000

4 comments on “Tower Bridge – Sacramento CA

  1. J. V. Coppola

    I am trying to find out why the Tower Bridge in Sacramento got that name. Who named it? Who approved the name? What other choices were there? What is the significance of the name? When was the name first used? There are other Tower references in Sacramento…Tower Records, Tower Theater, Tower Cafe. Why “Tower?”

  2. Nancy Marotte

    Sacramento Bee October 3, 1934
    A committee composed of acting Governor Frank Merriam, Director of Public Works Earl Kelly, City Manager James Dean and County Executive Charles Deterding selected the name of Tower Bridge for the new M Street Bridge. Kelly explained that the lift towers which will rise above the new M Street Bridge makes the name appropriate. He said the towers will be the most distinguishing feature of the structure.

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