Golden Gate Bridge celebrating 75 years
No repeat of the Bridge Walk from the 50th anniversary
Published: Monday, January 9, 2012 at 5:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 9, 2012 at 5:24 p.m.
Organizers of events commemorating the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge stressed two points Monday during a news conference to herald the coming year of celebrations.
One, the series of privately funded events won't dip into toll money.
And two, there will be no Bridge Walk, meaning no repeat of the 50th anniversary when the bridge bent, swayed and all but groaned under the weight of hundreds of thousands of people who all but jammed its every inch, alarming walkers and authorities alike.
“There literally wasn't a square foot available on that bridge,” said Brian Sobel, one of three Sonoma County members on the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.
Instead this year's celebrations will spread events across the city and the Bay Area during the entire year, peaking during the Golden Gate Festival on Memorial Day weekend.
With a tip of the hat to the Golden Gate Fiesta in May 1937, the festival will feature events along San Francisco's waterfront concluding with a fireworks finale on Sunday, May 27. The bridge opened on May 28, 1937.
“The bridge is not the stage for the celebrations, the community is,” said Mary Currie, bridge district spokeswoman.
In one of the earliest anniversary activities, the Marin History Museum in San Rafael will host “The Golden Gate Bridge, An Icon That Changed the World” from Jan. 28 to Sept. 1.
In Sonoma County, the celebration will include a May 26 exhibit at the Petaluma Historical Museum entitled: “A Golden Relationship, a Bridge to the Agriculture Bounty of Sonoma County.”
Despite its distance from the landmark, Sonoma County played a key role in the development of the bridge, which was constructed over four years. Indeed, Santa Rosa is sometimes regarded as its birthplace
In 1923, Frank Doyle, co-founder of Exchange Bank and president of the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce, called together a meeting of delegates from across San Francisco and the North Bay to discuss the possibility of spanning the Golden Gate.
Ultimately, six counties, including Sonoma and Mendocino counties, agreed to fund its construction.
Frank Dean, superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area, said the influence of the bridge is as obvious in Sonoma County as the storage shed at his Petaluma home.
The structure was built in the 1940s as a weekend home, the kind of development possible only after San Francisco was put in easy reach of the North Bay, he said.
“It transformed the area,” he said.
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