The Bancroft Survey Project began in February 2008. Funded by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon and the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundations, the survey project is intended to be a simultaneously broad and in-depth survey of all manuscript holdings of the Bancroft Library, which has been collecting for over a century. Four archivists were hired to scour the collections for a three year term, during which they will review the vast myriad of manuscript materials and use a survey instrument designed to gather data on collection scope, subject categories, and physical condition. The survey archivists are Marjorie Bryer, Amy Croft, Dana Miller, and Elia Van Lith, and they are also the authors of this blog.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

BART - What Could Have Been

In 1997, on the 25th anniversary of its inaugural service, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers International (ASME) recognized the Bay Area Rapid Transit system (BART) as a Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark. According to ASME, BART's development “was revolutionary, embodying a futuristic spirit that produced historic innovations." ASME called BART “the prototype for most modern rail transit systems.”

Bill Stokes, BART's first general manager, credits Adrien J. Falk, BART's first Board President, for fostering the creative atmosphere that prevailed on the project. He called Falk "a catalyst for spirited, imaginative approaches to engineering challenges. He created a dynamic environment in which creative energy could soar. People could look for quantum leaps in innovation.” Most of the innovations cited by ASME, such as the engineering details in the transbay tube, were not readily visible to the public. However, people did notice the sleek trains. The Adrien Joseph Falk papers (72/39 c) included a "Photographic Record of Progress on Prototype Model for BART."

These photos illustrate what those BART cars could have looked like and show some proud engineers/boosters showing off a BART modelprototype of a BART train.

Quotes taken from “National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark,”, 1997. Falk became director and first board president of BART in 1957, when he was 73 years old. According to the biography in the finding aid for his papers, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors recognized Falk's strong sense of civic responsibility when they proclaimed January 17, 1970, “Adrien J. Falk Day" to honor is contributions to civic life and community welfare.

-- M. Bryer

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