Celebrating Our Favorite Span

This weekend’s big ‘Golden Gate Festival’ at the heart of GG Bridge’s 75th anniversary
GG Bridge
From Marin to San Francisco, 1981
(photo: Ernie Braun)

Joe Eichler could see it from his penthouse atop the Summit, his famous Russian Hill high rise. Eichler’s architects Bob Anshen, Steve Allen, and Claude Oakland drove over it everyday, on their way to their Marin County homes.

The Golden Gate Bridge, one of the country’s top tourist sights and a masterpiece of engineering, is also a marvel of modern architecture. The bridge celebrates its 75th anniversary this Sunday May 27 with the Golden Gate Festival extravaganza, a big lineup of activities expected to draw huge crowds, along San Francisco’s northern waterfront.

Other bridge events include an exhibit at the California Historical Society in San Francisco, where San Francisco Chronicle writer John King will discuss the bridge 6 p.m. Friday May 25, and the ongoing ‘The Icon that Changed Marin’ exhibit at the Marin History Museum in San Rafael.

Although most bridges were designed without architects, chief engineer Joseph Strauss knew he had a special site in the 1930s that demanded superb design. Rather than heavy-handed cross-bracing in the towers, architects Irving Morrow and John Eberson provided a rising series of Mayan-like proscenium arches—not unlike those in Eberson’s many movie palaces.

The stepped-back bridge towers suggest the lithe elegance seen in Art Deco skyscrapers. Vertical fluting that conceals additional bracing adds shadowy effects.

And the color? Morrow’s choice of International Orange links the bridge to its site, harmonizing with the Marin Headlands’ earthy tones.

Bridging the years in photos

Photographer Ernie Braun loved shooting photographs of the Golden Gate Bridge. Between 1950 and 1985, he photographed the bridge many times over, and from so many fascinating points of view. As the world celebrates the Golden Gate Bridge’s 75th anniversary, let’s look back at this collection of Braun images that capture the bridge at some special moments during that span.

Painting the bridge, 1957
Painting the bridge, 1957

Braun family outing, 1963
Braun family outing, 1963

Creeping fog at dawn, 1978
Creeping fog at dawn, 1978

Fort Point, 1979
Surprised by waves, Fort Point, 1979