In 1935 the Park Street Bridge in Alameda, California, was opened for traffic. Three years later, hundreds of miles to the east of Alameda in Lansing, Michigan, I arrived. No ribbon-cutting on my arrival, no school band playing John Philip Sousa tunes or new 1938 automobiles ready to transport me home. (I believe my father at the time had a used Ford.) It would be over fifty years later, after I had developed my industrial skills in steel fabrication and the preservation of iron and steel, that I could appreciate this craftsmen’s industrial masterpiece, the Park Street Bridge. With steel shipped from the Tennessee Steel Mill in Ensley, Alabama, the bridge was fabricated on the West Coast. My mind’s eye imagines the shop floor, the sound of machines, tools, jigs and fixtures, steel rivets heated and driven with large industrial riveters, all in my mind’s eye for there is no written record of those who fabricated this bridge. The record of these craftsmen is within the structure itself. Spend time on the bridge, observe, listen to the craftsmen’s words.
Vern Mesler 2023