28 May 2012

Golden Gate Bridge marks 75 years since opening

12:42 pm on 28 May 2012

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is marking the anniversary of its opening 75 years ago.

The bridge that has graced millions of postcards and featured in countless films opened on 27 May 1937 in the face of vehement protest.

Ferry operators and environmentalists opposed it, and many engineers doubted such a daring leap over a treacherous Pacific Ocean strait could be built.

Some San Franciscans even fought against it because they thought a bridge might ruin the view, according to historians.

When it opened, thousands of people walked, roller-skated and stilt-walked across the famous landmark.

The bridge's arresting dark orange colour was an accident, first used as a primer while designers decided what to paint it.

The Navy had argued for black with yellow stripes to ensure it could be seen in a strait hostile to mariners with dense fog, heavy winds and strong ocean swells.

In the end, bridge authorities decided they liked the colour known as International Orange and stuck with it.

Celebrations for the 50th anniversary became infamous for the frightful swaying of the bridge under the weight of 300,000 people.

This time round, the bridge was being closed to cars and pedestrians during a fireworks show that capped a day of festivities along the bay waterfront on Sunday.

Beyond the revelry and tributes the famous landmark has a dark side. The grim reality of the estimated 1400 people who have jumped off the bridge to end their lives was been featured in a 2006 documentary The Bridge.