TED'S STORY & PHOTOS
In 1933, the Standard Oil Company of California sent their public relations employee, Ted Huggins, to the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District to assist with groundbreaking ceremonies. On this new assignment, Huggins realized the bridge district had no budget to satisfy requests from magazines and newspapers for photos of bridge construction. Huggins proposed to provide "as many 8X10s as the District could use." That way, the company could help build public interest in the bridge and keep Standard's name before the public with photo credit lines.
Huggins became one of the bridge's first and most tireless photographers — the precursor of countless vacationers, advertisers, movie makers and television crews who've focused on the bridge to get that one shot that "says" San Francisco. For the next three and a half years, every week and nearly every day, Huggins grabbed a company camera and went out to the Gate. He photographed construction from both shores, from airplanes and a blimp, from construction boats and ferries, from inside a caisson underneath the bay, and from atop the two towers.
Not a professional photographer, Huggins nevertheless experimented with many innovative techniques including infrared film, which could darken skies dramatically and give the bridge a wild, nighttime look. It was one of these infrareds that made the May 31, 1937, cover of Life magazine with a caption reading "The World's Most Spectacular Bridge Site." Huggins took and gave away hundreds of photos of the bridge. Media demand for new photos was so heavy that his team often worked nights and weekends to keep up. Many of the prints can be viewed today in the collection of the California Historical Society Library.
Photography was only part of Huggins' promotional contribution. He also helped with various ceremonies, made speeches, and escorted visiting dignitaries around (and up) the bridge. His service on the Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta publicity committee included successfully proposing that the Opening Day of the bridge in 1937 be limited to pedestrians. Huggins recalled, "I had a very hard time putting that one over... But we drew 200,000 people and to this day people tell me how they dashed across the bridge and show souvenirs of it."
Huggins continued his role as a booster of the bridge and its transformative effect on the Bay Area when he helped conceive and served on the publicity and advertising committee of the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exhibition on Treasure Island.
Today, his photos remain as powerful as ever. And Chevron remains committed to working to keep California moving forward.