This cold, foggy morning marks the 75th Anniversary of the International Orange symbol of San Francisco, The Golden Gate Bridge. For 8 decades this marvelous steel structure has wowed commuters and tourists each day, connecting the Marin County suburbs to the north with Baghdad by the Bay with 6 lanes of traffic and 2 pedestrian lanes.
Traffic was much lighter 65 years ago in this 1947 shot than it is today, before the growth of a number of Marin cities into actual commuter suburbs during the 1950s and 1960s.
This shot from 50 years ago shows how the suburban flight in the Bay Area was leading to some interesting possibilities, political controversies and some plans many of us currently living in the Bay Area wish came to reality.
While adding a lower deck would have deprived one direction of drivers of spectacular views of entering the city or entering the Marin Headlands, it would have negated the decades long debate over the moveable central barrier to prevent head on collisions.
But the truly epic “could have happened” scenario appeared when the Bay Area Rapid Transit System, or BART was in the planning stages in the 1950s. One idea to serve Marin Country was to run tracks on a lower deck of the bridge. But that fantastic public transit voyage was gone when Marin County pulled out in 1962.
So we’re left with 6 lanes of capacity that became the symbol everyone associates with a city that welcomes everyone no matter what with open arms (whether that’s true or not).
And trust me, it’s even more epic to behold in person than it is in pictures. I still have to focus REALLY hard driving across. Hence why this picture I took is from the passenger seat of a friends car. I like to rebel every so often, but driving at the center of an undivided bridge with a camera in hand is a bit dumb. And yes I’m calling every tourist that’s done that dumb.
I guess I should count myself lucky that I see such a engineering marvel and thing of beauty on my way home, and on super clear days from the roof of my house. For something that has an innate purpose of just getting me over a body of water in my car, it’s a beautiful thing to behold.