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75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge

75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge

On May 27, 2012, the Golden Gate Bridge turns 75, marking the day in 1937 when “the bridge that couldn’t be built” officially opened to worldwide acclaim. In honor of the Bridge’s diamond anniversary, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service (NPS), the Presidio Trust and the City and County of San Francisco are moving forward with a multi-faceted 75th anniversary program. This includes a grand public festival spanning the San Francisco waterfront from Fort Point (below the Golden Gate Bridge) to Pier 39, in addition to robust improvements to enhance the visitor experience at the iconic span.

Under the theme “Bridging Us All,” The Golden Gate Festival is the center point of the Bridge’s year-long 75th anniversary program. Harkening back to the spirit of the Golden Gate Fiesta when the Bridge opened on May 27, 1937, highlights of the 2012 celebration include an historic watercraft parade, multiple music and dance stages, art installations, history and educational presentations, display of cars from 1937 to the present, and Bridge-related activities on Crissy Field and the Marina Green.  These activities will be complemented by Bridge-themed events and performances at waterfront venues including Fort Mason Center, Ghirardelli Square, San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Pier 39, among others.  At approximately 9:30 pm, the celebration will conclude with a spectacular 75th anniversary fireworks display and grand finale.

“The Golden Gate Bridge stands today as a testament of innovation and imagination, a bridge built by the people during the Great Depression,” said Janet Reilly, president of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors.  “In honor of its 75th anniversary, we are reaching out to the people of the Bay Area and beyond to join us in a community-based celebration along the San Francisco waterfront.  The Bridge is not the stage this time; rather, the community will come together to celebrate this engineering wonder together in a festival atmosphere.”

The year-long Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary is supported by several corporate partners, including lead underwriters Wells Fargo, a diversified, community-based financial services company founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco; Genentech, the Bay Area-based founder of the biotechnology industry; 

Hewlett-Packard (HP), the world’s largest information technology company; and Kaiser Permanente, a health care organization for the 21st century with deep Bay Area roots.  Support also comes from Odwalla, with additional funding provided by Hanson Bridgett LLP, Levi Strauss & Co, Chevron and PG&E.


To plan and support the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary, the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy established a Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary Steering Committee composed of local volunteers and civic leaders - and co-chaired by Nancy Hellman Bechtle, also chair of the Presidio Trust, and Larry Baer, president of the San Francisco Giants.  “Our Steering Committee sought out corporate partners who we knew would share our goal to honor this beloved Bay Area icon appropriately, and who have a track record of supporting projects that benefit the public at large,” said Bechtle. “All of our corporate partners have a long and distinguished history of giving back to the communities where their employees and customers live and work. Their generous support of the Bridge’s 75th anniversary year will not only bring us all together for a great anniversary celebration, but also ensure lasting improvements to the Golden Gate Bridge visitor experience.”

In addition to The Golden Gate Festival, the year-long 75th anniversary features:

  75 Tributes to the Bridge, a series of public programs being presented throughout the year by Bay Area museums, cultural centers, universities, arts organizations, children’s groups, and others.
  Construction of a new 3,500-square-foot Bridge Pavilion to serve as a welcome and interpretive center and to provide a museum store featuring a wide range of commemorative and interpretive Bridge merchandise;
  Renovation of the historic Round House into a program staging and visitor education center;
  Upgrades to the Bridge Café, including a new menu with locally sourced and sustainable items;
  A “green screen” photo area where visitors can picture themselves in dramatic and publically inaccessible Bridge locations, such as the top of the tower;
  New personally guided Bridge tours, including the first-ever evening tours, utilizing the latest in audio technology; and
  Enhancements to the Bridge Plaza and the adjacent national parklands, trails and overlooks within Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA).

The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, along with various philanthropic and public agency funders, is supporting these long-term physical improvements to the visitor experience at the Bridge and in adjacent national parklands. “We are incredibly grateful to our individual, foundation, corporate, and public agency donors and partners,” said Greg Moore, executive director of the Conservancy. “They have made it possible for us to make a lasting anniversary gift to the Bridge and connect this beloved landmark to the Presidio and Golden Gate National Parks through a network of trails, bikeways, and scenic overlooks.”

“As the storied entrance to San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate, and its iconic Bridge is the namesake and centerpiece of our national park,” said Frank Dean, GGNRA General Superintendent. “The scenery, history, and extraordinary natural setting inspire millions of visitors a year to come to the area.  With the new facilities and education programs being launched at the Bridge this spring, the experience will be even more remarkable.”