A Tale of Two Gerties:
How and Why We Bridged the Narrows
The year 2000 marked the 60th anniversary of the opening of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge, nicknamed "Galloping Gertie," and the 50th anniversary of the opening of the second bridge, which still stands, and is called "Sturdy Gertie" by many residents. This exhibit attempts to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the two brdges.
The bridging of the Narrows was a turning point in the history of the peninsula. For residents, it ended generations of isolation and heralded much desired economic growth. During the four months the first bridge was in operation, newspaper stories reported new gas stations, street improvements, installation of sidewalks, and new stores.
After the completion of the second bridge, the summer vacation homes that dotted the peninsula became year-round residences. Previously populated primarily by farmers, loggers, and fishermen, the peninsula saw the arrival of young urbanites who commuted across the bridge to work.
In the town of Gig Harbor, known as a sleepy little fishing village, small shops began catering to tourists.
In late summer/early fall 2007, the third Tacoma Narrows bridge will open, standing tall beside Sturdy Gertie. The construction of this third bridge is the only major bridge project in the country. As with the first two bridges, controversy over tolls began almost immediately. Once the third bridge opens, Sturdy Gertie will go through a seismic retrofit, closing to traffic. Then, a year later, both bridges will be open to traffic.