Tacoma Narrows Bridge photograph collection, circa 1940-1960  PDF

Overview of the Collection

Tacoma Narrows Bridge photograph collection
circa 1940-1960 (inclusive)
7 photographic prints (1 box) ; various sizes
Collection Number
Photographs of the construction and after the collapse of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the new Tacoma Narrows bridge after completion.
University of Washington Libraries, Special Collections
Special Collections
University of Washington Libraries
Box 352900
Seattle, WA
Telephone: 206-543-1929
Fax: 206-543-1931
Access Restrictions

The collection is open to the public.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was partially provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical BackgroundReturn to Top

Construction of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge began in November, 1938. The bridge opened on July 1, 1940, to public acclaim. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge was lauded as an essential economic and military portal to Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, and its completion was called a triumph of man's ingenuity and perseverance. It had been completed in record time and, with a 2,800-foot central span, was the third largest span in the world. Immediately upon its opening it began swaying in the wind, which earned it the nickname “Galloping Gertie.” Four months after it opened to the public, the bridge fell on November 7, 1940, in what was later called "the Pearl Harbor of engineering."

After 29 months of construction, a new Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened on October 14, 1950, the fifth longest suspension bridge in the United States. Located on State Route 16 between Tacoma and Gig Harbor, the bridge is 5,979 feet in length, 40 feet longer than its predecessor.

The Washington State Department of Transportation calls the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge the "1940 Narrows Bridge." The bridge completed in 1950 is called the "Current Narrows Bridge." The newest bridge, which commenced construction in 2002 and was scheduled for completion in 2007, is called the "2007 Narrows Bridge."

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

This collection contains photographs depicting the construction of the original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the bridge after the middle span collapsed, and the 1950 Tacoma Narrows Bridge after its completion.

Use of the CollectionReturn to Top

Alternative Forms Available

These photographs form part of the University of Washington Libraries' online digital image collection entitled the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Collection. View the online collection.

Restrictions on Use

Restrictions may exist on reproduction, quotation, or publication. Contact Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries, for details.

Preferred Citation

Tacoma Narrows Bridge Photograph Collection. Special Collections, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, Washington.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top


1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge constructionReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
1 A1 circa 1940
1 A2
 Catwalk and towers viewed from anchorage
A.L. Thomspon, Photo Service, Tacoma, Washington (photographer)
circa 1940
1 A3 circa 1940

1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapseReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
2 B1 circa 1940 November 7
2 B2 circa 1940 November 7

1950 Tacoma Narrows BridgeReturn to Top

Container(s) Description Dates
Folder item
3 C1 circa 1950-1960
3 C2 circa 1950-1960

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Bridges--Washington (State)--Design and construction--Photographs
  • Bridges--Washington (State)--Foundations and piers--Photographs
  • Suspension bridges--Washington (State)--Photographs
  • Geographical Names :
  • Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Tacoma, Wash.)--Photographs
  • Form or Genre Terms :
  • Aerial photographs
  • Photographs

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

  • Subject Terms :
  • Visual Materials Collections (University of Washington)