A seventy-fifth birthday is a big deal for anyone – let alone a world famous icon. This May marks the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge and of course the Bay Area rarely passes on a reason to party.
But first, a note of what the celebrations won’t include -- a bridge walk. You may recall when the bridge turned 50, officials closed it down to traffic and let the public walk across. So many people jammed the structure that the bridge famously flattened out.
“That many people weigh more than cars because they’re packed in there,” said Dennis Mulligan, Golden Gate Bridge District General Manager. “That’s not something we’re looking forward to replicate.”
What they do plan to replicate is the opening day festival held on Crissy Field when the bridge opened in 1937. The anniversary of the 75th falls on the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, which lends itself perfectly for the occasion.
Bridge planners say the two-day Golden Gate Festival will extend along San Francisco’s waterfront and include a boat parade, music and a firework display on Sunday night. Interpretive displays will be set-up at Crissy Field for the event.
On top of that, 75 non-profits will create public programs that will be presented throughout the year in museums, schools and cultural centers. The Marin Symphony is composing an opus in honor of the famous span.
“What we’re doing with this celebration and beyond that is to provide better exhibits and information,” said Golden Gate National Recreation Area Superintendent Frank Dean, “to tell the story about this historic building and structure.
At least some of the anniversary plans will last longer than the parties. The bridge district is constructing a 3,500 square-foot pavilion at the Southern end of the bridge to welcome visitors. About 30 parking places were sacrificed for the new permanent structure.
But any trade-offs are well worth the trouble, planners say, in order to properly honor one of the world’s most recognizable icons, emblazoned on trinkets and postcards sent around the globe.
“There is something that is indescribable about this bridge,” said Janet Reilly, president of the GG Board of Directors. “That makes it feel special in the hearts of people around the world.”
NBC Bay Area is a proud sponsor of the 75th Anniversary Celebration.