Tue, May 29, 2012 - Page 7 News List

San Francisco celebrates Golden Gate Bridge birthday

AFP, SAN FRANCISCO

Fireworks explode over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, on Sunday. The bridge celebrated its 75th anniversary, having been open to traffic on May 27, 1937.

Photo: AFP

Tens of thousand of people came to San Francisco’s waterfront on Sunday to mark the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, the distinctive orange vermilion structure that attracts about 10 million visitors each year.

The city hosted a massive celebration complete with music, dance, vintage cars and motor-cycles, as well as a fireworks display showcasing the iconic bridge at the entrance to the San Francisco Bay.

The celebrations took place 75 years to the day after the bridge was opened to the public: to pedestrians on May 27, 1937, and to traffic the next day. At the time, the Golden Gate was the world’s longest suspension bridge.

Dreamt up by engineer Joseph Strauss, the bridge distinguishes itself by its unique color, chosen by architect Irving Morrow and dubbed international orange.

The paint originally ensured visibility for passing ships and served as a sealant to protect the bridge from the salty mist from the Golden Gate Strait after which it was named, the entrance to the bay from the Pacific Ocean.

Construction of the bridge took four years. About 2.7km long, it is 27m wide and its two towers reach 227m above sea level. Traffic is suspended 67m above the water.

Pedestrians and cyclists can access the bridge along with motorists.

However, the bridge also has a grim history as a popular place to commit suicide.

An estimated 1,600 people have died there in instances where the body was found and recovered, with many more unconfirmed, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Last year alone, 37 people died after jumping off the bridge — the fourth-highest number since it opened, the newspaper said, citing data from bridge authorities.

Events marking the bridge’s anniversary are to take place all year long and a new visitor center was opened at the beginning of this month at the southern entrance.

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