On Monday, January 5th, the city of San Francisco kick-started a yearlong celebration to mark the 75th anniversary of one its most famous landmarks - The Golden Gate Bridge. Besides being beautiful, the 1.7 mile long bridge was for many years also, the world's longest suspension bridge.
To celebrate the occasion, officials are planning many fun activities. However, the one thing they will not do, is reenact 'Pedestrian Day 37' - The 1937 opening day festivities, when the bridge was open to just pedestrians. That's because when they attempted that in 1987, to mark the bridge's Golden Jubilee, things went a little haywire.
Not only did 300,000 people or twice the number than anticipated show up, but they also, got nervous when they reached the center and felt the suspension arch flatten (like it was designed to). The panic that ensued resulted in a lot of chaos and even, some injuries!
So this time around, the planning officials have decided to stick to safer celebrations like firework displays, a boating parade, music and dance performances, as well as, guided night tours.
Building the bridge was first proposed in 1922, by an engineer named Joseph B. Strauss. However, the country was in the midst of a depression and people were concerned about the costs, which some estimated would exceed $100 million USD. Also, there was some skepticism about whether it was even possible to build a bridge given the high winds, strong water currents, not to mention, the 500ft. depth in the middle part of the bay.
However, he persevered and construction finally began in 1932. It took a complete redesign, five years and $35 million USD before the first pedestrians were able to walk across, on May 27th, 1937. Surprisingly though, most did not really like the way it looked, with a local leading newspaper going as far as calling it a '$35 million steel harp'.
Thankfully over the years, that sentiment has changed drastically. Today, over nine million tourists traverse the bridge annually and it is, the pride and joy of all Bay Area residents. To check out the full celebration schedule go to http://goldengatebridge75.org.