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Construction Zone: 1931

Construction Zone: 1931

The San Francisco Bay Area circa 1931. "Earth-moving equipment and trucks." 8.5 x 6.5 inch glass plate by Christopher Helin. View full size.


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Three votes for Sloat and Sunset

I agree with grubemed and Histry2.

First, the year of the photo corresponds with San Francisco's development of Sunset Boulevard through undeveloped sand dunes west of the city.

Histry2's photo does seem to be of the same construction site. This image, taken the same day, captures what appears to be the same temporary bridge as in our photo.

It impresses me that, eighty-three years later, the overpass is still in use and is a handsome, but time-worn, bit of engineering. I'm not sure the same will be said of most bridges being built today.

I vote for Sloat

I'm with grubbed.

The attached photograph was taken by the City of SF's Department of Public Works in October 1931. It shows construction work on a viaduct for Sloat Boulevard to cross over an as-yet unnamed new roadway, which became today's Sunset Boulevard.

Those fence posts sure look the same.

Sunset Boulevard under construction at Sloat?

Using the hints in the photo (Excavation work in sandy soil under a divided highway, electric railway/streetcar tracks, and the caption info), I'm guessing that this is a view of Sloat Boulevard with the excavation for the new Sunset Boulevard taking place. Just a guess from 2700 miles away.


Size of the shovel looks like a 105.

Here is a 1926 Model 105, set up as a dragline, working.

Could be grade separation.

A temporary bridge is in place and a 4-lane divided road is being knocked out from below.

Gas Shovel

Pit and Quarry, September 1922.

New Gas Shovel

The Northwest Engineering Company of Green Bay, Wis., announces that after exhaustive tests in the field a new Northwest gas shovel has been released for general sale. This shovel, because of its sturdy simplicity and unusual range of utility, is expected to find wide application for the general contractor and road builder, and in quarries and sand and gravel pits.

The device is an adaptation of a new, and according to the manufacturer a revolutionary shovel mechanism, to the Northwest crawler crane. This crawler device is depended upon to give the shovel ideal mobility. Incorporated in the crawler base is the patented Northwest steering device which, in the words of the maker, make the device “as easy to steer as a truck.” The shovel travels at a good rate of speed to and from the job without taxing the motor and, being operated by a gas engine, no stops to get up steam are necessary. …

Chain Drive

As late as about 1959, I remember seeing Mack chain drives, with solid tires, no less, thundering down Fulton Street past Borough Hall in Brooklyn. Given the condition of that heavily worn pavement, it must have been a punishing ride indeed for those poor drivers!

The Car

Circa 1926-27 Chevrolet coupe.

The shovel

The shovel is a Northwest, probably a model 80 or 105, probably gas but possibly diesel. Relatively modern for the time. Many contractors were still using steam shovels at this point.

Chain drive

Sterling retained chain drive at least as late as 1952 (see picture), and maybe later for all I know. I think they were the last holdout with this driveline system. Contractor where I grew up had a fleet of them, and I can still hear their clanky whine as they went by.

What will it be?

It would be interesting to know what it is they're constructing. Maybe somebody will know.

Truck IDs

Truck with water(?) tank is a Pierce Arrow. Others are Sterlings with chain drive. Note Pierce Arrow has hard rubber; others have balloon tires. High tech!

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