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series: Chesapeake Bay Bridge
air date: 11/25/12 3:00 PM
Shot in High Definition, The Chesapeake Bay Bridge captures the physical majesty of the bridge and its distinct personality. Soaring 186 feet above the water, and spanning 4.3 miles the Chesapeake Bay Bridge opened for business in 1952 and opened the door to a new era in Maryland. The William Preston Lane, Jr. Memorial Bridge, commonly referred to as the Bay Bridge, connected Maryland's rural, historically isolated communities on the Eastern Shore with the fast-growing Baltimore and Washington metropolitan areas. Using archival photos, aerials and images taken from boats on the bay, The Chesapeake Bay Bridge traces the bumpy ride to construction of the Bay Bridge, chronicling the early setbacks and political tenacity it took to realize an idea that first percolated in the early 20th century. Interviews with key participants bring to life the colorful characters involved, the near disasters and the amazing engineering feats that created the bridge that was once the world's longest continuous over-water steel structure. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge also looks at the far-reaching effects the Bay Bridge has had on everything from commerce to commuting. The Bay Bridge helped fuel the growth of the tourism industry, transforming tiny beachside resorts like Ocean City into crowded summertime destinations. Residents and business owners reflect on the changes, and how they were initially caught off guard by throngs of vacationers descending on the small coastal towns in 1952. Farmers, residents of tight-knit communities along Route 50 and historians paint a vivid picture of life before and after the bridge. While those who have made a living working on the bridge, toll collectors, engineers, maintenance workers and inspectors share their stories and their unique perspective. The Bay Bridge forever altered Maryland's landscape and the lives of its citizens. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge explores all facets of the transformation through firsthand accounts, stunning photography and well-crafted storytelling.
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