Bridge Builders: Photography by Joseph A. Blum

Bridge BuildersI love it when an old friend makes good. Back decades ago when Joe and I and other troublemakers were running from one demonstration to another, we’d never have dreamed that one day Joe would have a gala reception for his work in San Francisco’s City Hall. But it happened July 11. Joe was there with a handful of ironworkers and other bridge builders, and a good crowd of many dozens of supporters. The lower level of City Hall showed more than a hundred of his photos in the hallways, and the beautiful North Light Court on the ground floor showed a selection of big enlargements in a museum-like setting. Seeing these spectacular images of workers doing heroic stuff, I felt for a minute as if I were in Moscow fifty years ago. But this wasn’t Socialist Realist poster art. These are real pictures of real people at work, turning architects’ blueprints into the gigantic and elegant structure that we all hope to ride across before the end of this year. If we needed reminding that structures don’t construct themselves, people build them, this is the gallery to drive that lesson home. Joe took enormous personal risks getting up to dizzying heights with minimal support in every kind of weather, and stuck with the project for many months. His is a monumental photographic achievement. People will be looking at his photos and going ooh and aah for as long or longer than the new bridge stands. I’m happy I was at the reception to shake his hand and congratulate him, and to have made this short video to spread the word about his great work.

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