On this day in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge, connecting San Francisco to Marin County, California, officially opened amid citywide celebration.
When the bridge opened it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, at 4,200 feet. At the appointed hour, a foghorn blew and the toll gates opened, releasing the earliest arrivals, who rushed to be the first to cross.
This image depicts the USS California (BB44) crossing underneath an incomplete Golden Gate Bridge in 1936. National Archives Identifier 520585.
Aerial Photograph of Lower Manhattan in New York City, 05/26/1926
From the series: ”Airscapes” of American and Foreign Areas, 1917 - 1964
What buildings can you identify?
The Washington Monument reopens to the public today. The monument has been closed for repairs since the 5.8 earthquake damaged it in August of 2011.
The 555-foot-tall marble obelisk is an instantly recognizable landmark today—but here’s a proposal from Montgomery C. Meigs in 1877 on how to complete the monument.
The Washington Monument was completed in two phases of construction: one private (1848-1854) and one public (1876-1884). At one point, the monument stood partially finished, construction halted for two decades. The Washington National Monument Society had a change in leadership, then went backrupt, and the architect died.
Finally, in July 5, 1876, Congress assumed the duty of funding and building the Washington Monument, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers resumed construction. The Washington Monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885.
Image: National Archives Identifier 6087992
Happy 125th Birthday to the Eiffel Tower! Or should we say, Bon anniversaire à la Tour Eiffel!
Now an iconic part of the Parisian landscape, Gustave Eiffel’s eponymous tower first opened to the public 125 years ago on March 31, 1889 as part of the Exposition Universelle.
Excerpted from: RESULTS OF STRATEGIC BOMBING IN THE PARIS AREA, 1944
Happy 105th Birthday Queensboro Bridge! (aka the 59th Street Bridge, Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge)
Construction on this cantilever bridge began in 1901 and opened to the public on March 30, 1909. The bridge connects Long Island City, Queens with Manhattan at 59th and 60th streets. In 2010 it was renamed in honor of former New York City mayor Ed Koch.
THIS IS THE 59TH STREET BRIDGE SEEN FROM THE EAST SIDE DRIVE MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY. THE INNER CITY TODAY IS AN ABSOLUTE CONTRADICTION TO THE MAIN STREAM AMERICA OF GAS STATIONS EXPRESSWAYS, SHOPPING CENTERS AND TRACT HOMES. IT IS POPULATED BY BLACKS, LATINS AND THE WHITE POOR. THIS PROJECT IS A PORTRAIT OF THE INNER CITY ENVIRONMENT OF PEOPLE AND STRUCTURES, 08/1974
One hundred years ago on February 12, 1914, Abraham Lincoln’s 105th birthday, the cornerstone was laid on the Lincoln Memorial. A little more than eight years later it was completed and dedicated on May 30, 1922 with President Lincoln’s son, 79 year old Robert Todd Lincoln, attending the ceremony.
Photograph of the Abraham Lincoln Statue Installation in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C., 1920
Minot’s Ledge Light, again
This is the plan for the second lighthouse built on Minot’s Ledge, an infamous reef southeast of Boston Harbor responsible for over 40 shipwrecks. The first lighthouse washed away in a storm in 1851, a little over a year after it was first lit. (You can find a drawing of the original ill-fated lighthouse and its iron framework in our online catalog)
Section and Elevation Drawing for Minot’s Ledge Lighthouse, 02/01/1855
From the series: Lighthouse Plans and Maps from the Records of the U.S. Coast Guard.
NEW YORK, NY - Sky-line for the masque ball! - Beaux Arts fete features novel architectural costumes.
Excerpted from: This Week in Universal News: Beaux-Arts Ball, 1931, Universal News Volume 3, Release 7 #1-10, January 19, 1931
On January 23, 1931, architects dressed up as the buildings they designed for the Beaux-Arts Ball in New York. In this week’s featured story, they are pictured from left to right, A. Stewart Walker as the Fuller Building, Leonard Schultze as the Waldorf-Astoria, Ely Jacques Kahn as the Squibb Building, William Van Alen as the Chrysler Building, Ralph Walker as the Wall Street Building and Joseph Freedlander as the Museum of the City of New York.
Watch the entire newsreel, featuring a polar submarine, a train wreck, Charles Lindbergh receiving a medal from a French ambassador, dancing dogs, and “dangerous” figure skating, among other stories here.
Universal Newsreels were shown in movie theaters twice a week, from 1929 until 1967, and covered a wide range of American life and history during that time period. In 1974, Universal deeded its collection to the United States through the National Archives and is one of our most used motion picture collections. Learn more about the Universal Newsreel Collection in this post and in this Prologue article. Watch other Universal Newsreels in our research room, in OPA, and on this playlist.
Photograph of the U.S. Immigrant Building at Ellis Island, 1/11/1900
Records of the National Park Service
Taken on January 11, 1900, this photograph shows construction of the main immigrant reception building at Ellis Island, New York.
It’s National Lighthouse Day!
Elevation and Plan of Execution Rocks Lighthouse, New York, 1849
What’s your favorite lighthouse? Could it be in our holdings?
Private First Class Lawrence Bartlett, Niagara Falls, New York, examines the four fallen lions which once adorned the top of the Siegestor, built by King Ludwig I, in 1844-1852 in tribute to the Bavarian Army. Munich, Germany, June 13, 1945.
Happy 130th to the Brooklyn Bridge!
When it opened on May 24, 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Designed and built by German-born John A. Roebling and his son, Washington A. Roebling, the bridge connected New York and Brooklyn. The remarkable design used Roebling’s patented system of steel wire cable construction. Its graceful limestone and granite towers, pictured here, took 5 years to build.
- Photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge Across the East River, 04/1974. From the EPA’s DOCUMERICA Series
- Plan of One Tower for the East River Bridge, 1867
- Pedestrians on the upper deck promenade of Brooklyn Bridge, New York City, ca. 1910
Completed 40 years ago in May 1973, Chicago’s Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower) was the tallest building in the world, and still reigns as the tallest building in the United States, until the imminent completion of New York’s One World Trade Center.
NEW AMTRAK TURBOLINER…THE NEW SEARS TOWER IS SEEN ON THE SKYLINE. 06/1974
From the EPA’s DOCUMERICA Series
(More items from DOCUMERICA are currently on exhibit at the National Archives: “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project”)
The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center officially opened 40 years ago on April 4, 1973. At the time of their completion they were the tallest buildings in the world.
These photos, taken shortly after the World Trade Center was completed in the early 1970s, are part of the DOCUMERICA series, a program sponsored by the Environmental Protection Agency to photographically document subjects of environmental concern in America during the 1970s.
Find more images from DOCUMERICA at “Searching for the Seventies: The DOCUMERICA Photography Project,” now open at the National Archives in Washington, DC.