Fred Brusati's oral history is one of many treasures that reside inside the University's Labor Archives. In a 1987 interview, Brusati recalled, "The first day that I got on the tower I was a little scared. I figured, boy, if anything happens, I'm a goner."
Would you like to work on the bridge? In 1934, when Fred Brusati (left) was asked to join the Golden Gate Bridge crew, he said, "I've never been up seven hundred and forty-six feet, but I'll try it anyhow.
"The complex construction process required a multitude of skilled workers -- electricians like Brusati, carpenters, pile drivers, divers and ironworkers. Together, over the course of four and a half years, they pulled off a stupendous feat of engineering and design that has been called one of the seven wonders of the modern world.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. Through January, an exhibit of photographs from the Labor Archives and Research Collection, on display at the J. Paul Leonard Library, offers a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of this amazing landmark. "Spanning the Gate"salutes Fred Brusati and the other working-class heroes who risked their lives hundreds of feet above the churning waters of the San Francisco Bay.
A safety net, slung below the bridge during construction, caught 19 men who fell and became members of The Halfway to Hell Club. Brusati recalled February 17, 1937, when a platform broke away from the bridge and ripped through the net, sending a dozen people into the water. Two survived.
"I looked down and there was some man hanging on to the steel. So me and about three or four other men lowered a rope down and pulled him up and the man had a pipe in his mouth. He didn't drop the pipe or nothing. He just started walking towards San Francisco, and I never did see him back there again.
Founded in 1985 by trade union leaders, historians, labor activists and University administrators, the Labor Archives, a rich source of history materials, is part of SF State's J. Paul Leonard Library. For more information on Spanning the Gate and other exhibits: www.library.sfsu.edu/about/depts/larc
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