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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Friday, May 27, 2016

"A Thirty-Five Million Dollar Steel Harp!"

Today's History Lesson

Bridges have been the topic of historical nature for centuries. Each carries its own poignant story of life and death. Some maintain an eerie presence of ghostly secrets never to be revealed. Just a few days ago The World's First Steel Suspension Bridge was the topic of the history lesson. From stone to wooden bridges to massive hulks of steel, engineering has carried bridge construction to newer, more modern, unbelievable levels. 

This Day in History: May 27, 1937

On January 5, 1933, construction begins on the Golden Gate Bridge that is anything but golden! Check out What's 'n' a Name? Now, four years and four months later the Golden Gate Bridge opens!

"To pass through the portals of the Golden Gate is to cross the threshold of adventure." – Allan Dunn
Golden Gate Bridge History. It's hard to imagine that the Golden Gate Bridge was once the laughing stock of San Francisco. Much like the Eiffel Tower, it's had its fair share of criticism calling it costly, ugly, disruptive and an impossible engineering feat. On opening day, May 27, 1937, the San Francisco Chronicle dismissed the bridge as "a thirty-five million dollar steel harp." 

On opening day pedestrians were the only ones allowed on the bridge. It cost a nickel to cross the Bridge that first day so coin machines had been set up. However, due to the influx of people it did not take long before the coin machines jammed. The Golden Gate Bridge officials turned the event into a big  festival, wonderfully described in this article from the 50th anniversary (along with comments on its 25th, 35th, 40th, and 60th anniversaries).

Compare the photo above taken in 1987 on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge with the photo taken on opening day in 1937.
"In May 1987, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, the bridge closed to automobiles. However, this celebration attracted 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, causing the center span of the bridge to flatten out under the weight." See additional photos @1987: 50th Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge


The opening of the Golden Gate Bridge occurred during a dark time in our American history although the Depression was easing somewhat by 1937. The Bridge symbolized a bright addition in spite of the darkness of the times for many people. Notice the hats with Mariachi-style tassels that some people are wearing in the photo. These were one among many souvenirs offered to the bridge walkers. [Source: OurSausalito.com]

Nine laughing San Rafael High students run through the early morning fog
as the Golden Gate Bridge opens. May 27, 1937. Photo: Chronicle Archives

Billie Mitchell of Kelsey, who was 16 when the Golden Gate Bridge opened,
returns on the 50th anniversary in 1987. May 24, 1987. Photo: Tom Levy, The Chronicle
Today the Golden Gate Bridge looms as an iconic symbol of America even amidst dense, pesky fog!