Tacoma Narrows Bridge History Website
Tacoma Narrows Bridge resources


The Bridge as a Connection

Why were the
bridges built?

The Bridge as Machine

How did they
build the bridges?

The Bridge as Art

Why do the bridges
look like they do?
  People of the Bridge
Who designed
the bridges?

A Tale of Three Bridges - 1950

"Sturdy Gertie" - This First Narrows Bridge

Opening Day, 1950
The second Narrows Bridge, labeled "Sturdy Gertie" by the newspapers and local promoters, opened to great fanfare. A large crowd, plus dignitaries and other politicians, attended the gala event.

At one mile in length, the existing 1950 bridge is the fifth longest bridge in the United States and represents the best of suspension bridge design, stability and engineering.

Following Gertie's demise, World War II delayed construction of Tacoma Narrows Bridge II for a full eight years. Shortages of steel and wire made such materials valuable commodities. Washington sold bridge steel as surplus, and the remains of the 1940 bridge cables and span were scraped.

The state financed the second bridge through a $14,000,000 bond issue. When the bridge opened in 1950, tolls were almost the same as for Gertie. The bridge remained a toll facility until the bonds were retired in May 1965, 13 years ahead of schedule.


Click any image to enlarge and bring up more information.

They called it Sturdy Gertie.   Heavier cables mean bigger anchorages.   Raising up the new towers.   New bridge built on 1940 piers.
Cables & Spinning.   Raising a deck.   Bracing against the elements.   A second round of celebrations.

» 1940 Panel
» 2007 Panel

About the images:
Photos on this panel are courtesy of the Gig Harbor Peninsula Historical Society.

About the content:
Some content in this exhibit has been excerpted and/or paraphrased from the Gig Harbor Museum's exhibit titled A Tale of Two Bridge.

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