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Post image for Matt Weil photographs the Bay Bridge from the same vantage point of 85 years ago

It is a homecoming of sorts for civil engineer and serious amateur photographer Matt Weil whose photography show, “The Bay Bridge: An Engineer’s Perspective,” is on display at Cafe Borrone.

Matt grew up in Menlo Park and would wander into Cafe Borrone walking home from Menlo-Atherton High School. “I remember seeing the different art on the walls,” he recalled. “So many unique displays by local artists. So it was great to meet with Roy [Borrone] and explain the Bay Bridge show concept.”

The show is a series of paired photographs, the first taken nearly 85 years ago by Charles Joseph “Joe” Knedel during his time as a civil engineer and surveyor on the original construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. The second was taken over the last year by fellow civil engineer Matt, who retraced Joe’s footsteps in the streets and on the water around San Francisco.

Joe’s images have been cherished by his family for years but have never been publicly displayed; Matt is married to Joe’s granddaughter. “Eight or nine years ago, my wife’s mother brought out a box of loose negatives and photographs. She was familiar with them. I’d never seen anything like them! I was captivated by the artistry and unique perspective of an engineer on such an immense project.”

Wanting to digitize the photos but unwilling to give up possession of the photos to an outside company, Matt scanned each image one by one at the UC Davis computer lab. “The cool thing was that I got to study each image,” he recalled.

About a year and a half ago, he reviewed them again. “Every time I looked at the negatives I’d see something I hadn’t seen before,” Matt said. “I began to wonder how many of these you could still see from the same perspective today.”

He ended up retracing the footsteps of between 30 and 40 images. “There were a number where I found the location and the right spot, but there was an obstruction.

“The first photograph I shot was probably the most satisfying (pictured top). It was from Harrison and Main. The tricky part was that it was taken from the middle of the intersection. I had 18 seconds to get it right!”

Joe’s exquisite photographic eye is further exemplified by his own words. He wrote home one night in July 1935: “From here, the grandest, scrambling of lights you have ever seen. Red ones, green ones, white and yellow ones. Pale ones, creamy ones and blue ones. Lights blinking, red ones being waved. Funny. No railroad crossings out here. Oh, that’s right. They’re building a bridge. Possibly that has to do with all the cable spinning. Lots of ants, undoubtfully men, running up and down…”

The exhibit’s photographs demonstrate the evolution of San Francisco while highlighting the permanence and artistry of the Bay Bridge. They are hung side by side, so that they can be viewed together.

Photos courtesy of Matt Weil (c) 2018

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The door slams shut one last time on the Oasis

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The booths and tables at the Oasis Beer Garden in Menlo Park are as lonely the sole pint of beer pictured above, and unlikely to be filled again. We learned today that Dan Beltramo, the building’s property owner, does not intend to bring back the Oasis in the near future. Emails Menlo Park City Councilman […]

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Spotted: M-A alums at The Oasis

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Four M-A classmates – left to right, Cynthia, Dennis, Alice, Linda (behind Alice) -stopped by the Oasis shortly after it opened today, and who did they run into but Shirley (far right), who was a year behind them. She’d come for a final goodbye from across the Bay. Alice and Linda shared their first legal […]

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FairVote & Nirvana – all in one afternoon at Cafe Zoë on March 10

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Cafe Zoë and FairVote California are hosting an event on Saturday, March 10 at 2:30 pm to give the community a chance to learn more about Ranked Choice Voting, featuring FairVote Board Chair Krist Novoselic and Executive Director Rob Richie. FairVote California (FVCA) is a project of FairVote, which advocates for electoral reforms that give voters greater […]

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Oasis may be saved yet – here’s the latest

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Menlo Park City Council member Ray Mueller has been in conversation with both the Tougas family (operators of the Oasis) and the Beltramo family (owners of the building) and late this afternoon sent an email to City Manager Alex McIntyre and City Attorney Bill McClure saying that he is “cautiously optimistic the pieces are coming […]

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Spotted: Raising a pint for Malcolm on Freewheel Brewing Company’s 5th anniversary

Thumbnail image for Spotted: Raising a pint for Malcolm on Freewheel Brewing Company’s 5th anniversary

Good vibes aplenty were on display at Freewheel Brewing Company last night when the community came out in memory of founder Malcolm McGinnis on the occasion of the pub’s 5th anniversary. Malcolm, who passed away in September 2016, founded Freewheel with Englishman Pete Krausa (pictured right with Irene Searles, Malcolm’s widow) along with fellow Menlo Park […]

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More on The Oasis from author of the book on Camp Fremont

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The building that houses The Oasis, which will close on March 7, has a history that predates its 60 years as a beer garden. Emails Barbara Wilcox, who wrote a book about Camp Fremont during World War I: “[The building] was one of several Camp Fremont YMCAs during the war. Every unit had its own YMCA. […]

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Menlo Park beer & burger institution, The Oasis, set to close March 7

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The Tougas family, who operate The Oasis, announced via Facebook that the much beloved Menlo Park beer and burger spot will close on March 7. Here is their announcement: “To all of our loyal customers and to the greater Menlo Park community, “It is with heavy heart that we announce the closing of our beloved […]

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Pussyhat Project creator Krista Suh will be at Café Zoë on Feb. 25

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Krista Suh, creator of the Pussyhat Project, will be at Café Zoë on Sunday, Feb. 25 at noon, signing her book, DIY Rules for a WTF World. Krista took her idea and engineered it into a grass roots worldwide movement in just two months. There will be a reading from her book, a Q & A session, […]

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Freewheel Brewing Company celebrates the legacy of Malcolm McGinnis – and its 5th anniversary

Thumbnail image for Freewheel Brewing Company celebrates the legacy of Malcolm McGinnis – and its 5th anniversary

On Thursday, Feb. 22, from 6:00 to 10:00 pm, Freewheel Brewing Company will celebrate its 5th anniversary and the legacy of its founding brewer — and Menlo Park resident — Malcolm McGinnis, who passed away in September, 2016. There will be a special bottle release of Gone Fishing. All proceeds from the sale of this […]

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Birthday celebrations with Atherton roots abundant at Harry’s Hofbrau Tuesday night

Thumbnail image for Birthday celebrations with Atherton roots abundant at Harry’s Hofbrau Tuesday night

Actuarily speaking, “the longer you live, the longer you’ll live.” Lou Matis, who has lived in Atherton for the past 47 years, is case in point. We thought we were celebrating something special when we attended Lou’s 100th birthday at Harry’s Hofbrau four years ago. But here we were again Tuesday night (Jan. 30) when […]

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