Extract from the archives: the Golden Gate Bridge opened its doors 85 years ago
On opening day, May 27, 1937, more than 200,000 people crossed San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge was opened to vehicles the following day.
Once a symbol of California and American power and progress, it is still one of the most recognizable structures in the world today.
Among those who paid their nickel to get through that first day was Ed Hutshing. Hutshing joined the San Diego Union staff in 1963 and spent more than a dozen years as a book editor, beginning in 1977.
“It was a beautiful morning,” he wrote in a memoir published for the 50th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1987, “with pale blue skies and high, thin jagged clouds. It wasn’t cold but you could wear a sweater or a jacket and be grateful.
Excerpt from the Evening Tribune, Thursday, May 27, 1937:
GIRL, 17, FIRST TO USE GATE BRIDGE
SAN FRANCISCO, May 27 (INS) – Thirty-six Navy planes from San Diego arrived here today in massive formation and flew over the Golden Gate Bridge, which was packed with pedestrians for its gala opening. Bridge officials estimated that more than 60,000 pedestrians had crossed the span in the first hours since it opened this morning.
SAN FRANCISCO, May 27 (AP) — Thousands of pedestrians walked through San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate today for the first time as the world’s largest suspension bridge opened to the public.
Rival fails to wake up
One of the world’s greatest engineering feats, the $35,000,000 concrete and steel span connects San Francisco to Marin County, the southernmost section of Northern California’s Redwood Empire. . He spent almost five years in the building.
Tollbooth officials estimate 3,000 to 4,000 people blocked the San Francisco approach when the blast of a huge foghorn in the middle of the bay signaled the opening to pedestrians at 6 a.m.
Many in the huge crowd had been waiting since 5 p.m. yesterday. Phyllis Kirschbaum, 17, a high school student from San Francisco, was the first to drop a coin into the toll and rush over the bridge, far ahead of Mildred Farquhar, 19, a student at San Francisco Junior College, who was sleeping under the approach from the bridge all night, but failed to wake up in time.
Stopping and asking her how it felt to be the first pedestrian across the bridge, Miss Krischbaum shouted:
” Let me go ! I want to pass !
Allow cars tomorrow
The first to arrive was Frank Brissette, 26, from San Francisco, who reached the bridge at 5 p.m. yesterday and slept in the fire station. Nearly 200 state and city police patrolled the bridge to guard against suicide attempts. Six fire trucks and six ambulances were stationed at the span. The bridge will be open to vehicular traffic tomorrow.
A threat of an anti-Nazi boycott from the Pacific Maritime Federation loomed over the week-long bridge fiesta in San Francisco, and the city’s biggest hotels were still blocked by a strike that was in its 27th day, but none of these seemed to affect the cheerfulness of San Francisco or its thousands of visitors from all parts of western America.