Golden Gate Bridge turns 80, lures foreign and local tourists
SAN FRANCISCO, California—It’s a wind-swept afternoon at the continent’s edge in the north of California – particularly at the prototypical 2.7-kilometer Golden Gate Bridge, visited by local and foreign tourists including returning Filipinos.
Many of the thousands of visitors, several in awe at the engineering works on the suspension span, visit daily the winds-whipped structure – many walking along the 343-meter span or riding their bicycles through it or just experiencing the span from a nearby viewing deck.
Construction of the span, part of the Golden Gate National Parks, which provides other beautiful places to visit around the area, was completed on May 27, 1937, eventually built with walkways on either side of the six-vehicle traffic lanes.
Officials were upbeat about the 80th anniversary of the Bridge, with appropriate ceremonies on May 27, including honors to the designers: Joseph Strauss, Irving Morrow and Charles Ellis.
The span’s main walkway is on the eastern side and is open for use by both pedestrians and bicyclists in the morning to mid-afternoon during weekdays, and for pedestrians only for the remaining daylight hours until 9 p.m. when the sun sets on the Pacific Ocean.
The western walkway is open only for bicyclists and only during the hours when they are not allowed on the eastern walkway, according to Bridge officials.
Beyond the span, some enterprising tourists enjoy the sight of migrating dolphins near sandstone cliffs where bank swallows keep their nests.
Not far from there are hectares of lupines, a genus of flowering plants in the legume family fabaceae which includes more than 200 species, with centers of diversity in North and South America.
Their dancing petals, caressed by the California sun in spring and summer, beckon hungry bees while steady winds blow onshore from a velvet horizon of water and fog, seen by some thousands during particular hours.
Non-fictionist Christine Colasurdo has said the surrounding land is “packed with superlatives, a land that makes descriptions seem exaggerated.”
Among those visiting the area one weekend were American and Filipino returnees who spent their days off just to experience yet once more the Bridge during the weekend.
Siena Maen, a 19-year-old social work college sophomore, told Manila Standard, “I keep returning to experience the Bay; the history of the Golden Gate is important for someone who loves history.
“I am a Bay area native and this is why it is very important (for me to visit) because I feel this certain attachment.”
Another California-born, 38-year-old Caren Brough, who now works as a claim manager in Washington State, an hour away by airplane due north, herself said: “I come here very often (because) it reminds me of home and dad.”
She was referring to her late father, a design engineer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration who was a major in the US Air Force.
Reminded that the San Andreas Fault, a continental transform fracture that extends roughly 1,288 kilometers through California which forms the tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate, said “that’s kind of scary but we live through it.”
Victoria Avalos, 39, of European and Hispanic roots, returns to the area every so often she is off her care giving chores, saying “I want to experience the beautiful view of the bridge and the city from Fort Point or just the nearby café area which provides tourists a good view of the area.”
She added: “I also like to fish under the bridge, where I catch stripers, halibut, sturgeon and rock crabs.”
She volunteered information plans by officials to place what she called a “suicide net” under the bridge—expected to be completed in 2020—to catch suicides on their death plunge.
Jose Quinto, a 78-year-old retired bank executive from Pangasinan, himself noted the upgraded facilities, having repeatedly seen the Bridge in the past during visits to California when he was still a vice president of a private-run bank in the Philippines.
“We used to have a good view of the bridge with big telescopes and binoculars in this area which have been overtaken by other buildings, like souvenir stores and coffee shops,” he said.
Others that tourists can feast on are mounds of pillow basalt—known here as “sea stacks”—which rise from the surf just off the Marin Coast.
These are, according to Galen Rowell, “evidence of long ago volcanic activity deep beneath the ocean floor.”
Golden Gate officials said the parks “provide glorious outdoor classrooms, with children participating in ranger-led programs, learning about birds of prey and building—and test paddling—tule boats.
Some tourists have had the fortune to see some California quail skitters which perch on fence posts in the park’s northern coastal canyons and valleys.
Walkers on the Tennessee Valley Trail often have a glimpse of gregarious birds with their black, forward-curving crowns dubbed here as topknots.
There is also the nearly five-kilometer Stinson Beach—a smooth, white crescent sandbar popular to local residents—which is one of the Golden Gate National Parks’ few “swimming” beaches.