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Thursday
May242012

"A Thirty-Five Million Dollar Steel Harp!"

The Golden Gate Bridge celebrates a huge birthday this year, turning 75 on Monday, May 28th. On opening day, the San Francisco Chronicle referred to the bridge as, "A Thirty-Five Million Dollar Steel Harp!" In the day where newspapers reigned supreme, sensational headlines demanded readership. In today’s economy, construction would carry a hefty price tag of approximately $1.2 billion dollars (circa 2003).  Building was completed in just over four years, with construction commencing on January, 5th 1933 and the bridge opening to vehicular traffic on May 28, 1937. If the Navy had its way, the bridge would have been painted like a bumble bee, with black and yellow stripes. “International Orange,” was selected by a consulting architect who viewed it as distractive enough stand out among the cool colors of the sky and sea.

As of April 2011, 1,929,896,448 vehicles have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge since opening in 1937. The prime architects responsible for the vision and completion are the well known, Joseph Strauss, Charles Alton Ellis and Irving Morrow. While Strauss received the lion’s share of credit, the construction could not have been complete without Ellis’s undertaking of the complex design calculations. 

I came across a poem written by Strauss shortly after the completion of the modern marvel, and was struck by the collective ambition to dream the impossible and follow-through until completion. Enjoy.  

Pedestrian Day- May 27, 1937The Mighty Task is Done

At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky.

On its broad decks in rightful pride,
The world in swift parade shall ride,
Throughout all time to be;
Beneath, fleet ships from every port,
Vast landlocked bay, historic fort,
And dwarfing all--the sea.

To north, the Redwood Empire's gates;
'To south, a happy playground waits,
in Rapturous appeal;
Here nature, free since time began,
Yields to the restless moods of man,
Accepts his bonds of steel.

Launched midst a thousand hopes and fears,
Damned by a thousand hostile sneers,
Yet ne'er its course was stayed,
But ask of those who met the foe
Who stood alone when faith was low,
Ask them the price they paid.

Ask of the steel, each strut and wire,
Ask of the searching, purging fire,
That marked their natal hour;
Ask of the mind, the hand, the heart,
Ask of each single, stalwart part,
What gave it force and power.

An Honored cause and nobly fought
And that which they so bravely wrought,
Now glorifies their deed,
No selfish urge shall stain its life,
Nor envy, greed, intrigue, nor strife,
Nor false, ignoble creed.

High overhead its lights shall gleam,
Far, far below life's restless stream,
Unceasingly shall flow;
For this was spun its lithe fine form,
To fear not war, nor time, nor storm,
For Fate had meant it so.

Countdown to the celebration

It’s countdown to the celebration of the year—the Golden Gate Festival on Sunday, May 27, 2012.  Marking the official 75th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, tens of thousands of participants are expected at the historic celebration along the San Francisco waterfront. Use the information below to help plan your day. Sunday, May 27, 2012 Festival Highlights 

Frequently Asked Questions about the Golden Gate Bridge

 

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