While we consider our Dewey monument pretty iconic, there is no true symbol of San Francisco quite like the Golden Gate Bridge. You can see its beauty and grandeur from our tallest buildings and vantage points, but the best way to experience it is by walking or driving across it. There’s just no beating the excitement and anticipation you feel as you drive over the bridge with the deep blue bay on one side and endless ocean on the other, the nature and hills of Marin behind you and the rough magic of a bustling city in front of you. Because of this, it is unlike any other bridge in the world, and since we celebrate its 75th anniversary this year, we thought we’d tell you a little bit about its history and all the fun activities happening around this momentous occasion.
A Bit of History
The Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic for the first time on May 28, 1937 and provided the first non-boat way of getting from Marin to San Francisco. It has since been dubbed one of the wonders of the modern world and a true icon of San Francisco. Before it was built, the lack of connection between San Francisco and the surrounding areas was hindering growth. Demand for a faster, more modern way of getting to Marin grew, but experts were skeptical about building a bridge over such rough waters with the heavy fog and high winds to which the Bay Area is prone. Still, some visionaries, including local engineer and dreamer Joseph Strauss, were able to push through the legislation that made it possible. After about ten years of lobbying and garnering support, Straus was able to head a team of engineers in the initial construction of a suspension bridge with two towers, art deco street lights, railing and walkways. As you may well know, the famous international orange color that it is painted today was initially just a sealant, but the locals loved it so much, the architects were persuaded to keep it that way.
Once the bridge was complete on May 27, 1937, a week-long celebration commenced, complete with a day of pedestrian and roller-skate access, a mayoral motorcade, a dedicated poem and song, a flock of beauty queens and the official opening to traffic by President Roosevelt. Locals may remember that the 50th anniversary didn’t go quite so smoothly, as the bridge was opened to foot traffic, and the crowds were much larger than anticipated. The deck’s arched shape was flattened out under the stress of approximately 300,000 people. Rest assured; no such human traffic jam will take place this year.
Many members of the community are participating in events before and after the May 27th celebration with everything from art exhibits to musical performances to film nights to biking tours as part of a program called 75 tributes. In fact, one such participant is our very own George Krevsky Gallery where you can catch a diverse set of beautiful and unique artistic renditions of the bridge starting May 3 (some are pictured above). Other participants include our friends in Fisherman’s Wharf, the Presidio, Ghirardelli Square and much more! For the full list visit the events calendar. Of course, all of this will culminate on May 27th with a day-long celebration and all-out party along the city’s northern waterfront. This year’s theme is Bridging Us All with an emphasis on discussing and rejoicing in the diversity, creativity and unity of the entire Bay Area. This spectacular day will include music, dance, parades and chances to learn about the history of the bridge as well as see the different models of cars that have crossed its path over the years. The day will end with a thrilling fireworks display over the bay and a surprise grand finale. For full details on the day’s festivities visit the Official 75th Anniversary Website, and if that’s not enough to satiate your golden gate spirit, check out this Guide with 75 Ways to Celebrate.