Monday, May 27, 2013

May 27 (1937) Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrians "Above the fog and scorn and doubt"

Pedestrians walk across the Golden Gate Bridge on May 27, 1937. San Francisco Chronicle archive photos of the Golden Gate Bridge construction and opening to the public. Photo: San Francisco Chronicle

On this day in 1937, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge was opened to the public for the first time.

San Francisco reveled in its creation, which they marked by declaring May 27 "Pedestrian's Day." By 6am, 18,000 people were waiting to cross the span from both the San Francisco and the Marin sides.

Probably no one was more pleased than the bridge's chief engineer, Joseph P. Strauss.  He wrote many poems to commemorate the occasion, including one from the perspective of the bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge
Written upon completion of the Bridge sometime in 1937

I am the thing that men denied,
The right to be, the urge to live;
And I am that which men defied,
Yet I ask naught for what I give.

My arms are flung across the deep,
Into the clouds my towers soar,
And where the waters never sleep,
I guard the California shore.

Above the fogs of scorn and doubt,
Triumphant gleams my web of steel;
Still shall I ride the wild storms out,
And still the thrill of conquest feel.

The passing world may never know
The epic of my grim travail;
It matters not, nor friend or foe –
My place to serve and none to fail.

My being cradled in despair,
Now grown so wondrous fair and strong,
And glorified beyond compare,
Rebukes the error and the wrong.

Vast shafts of steel, wave-battered pier,
And all the splendor meant to be;
Wind-swept and free, these, year on year,
Shall chant my hymm of Victory!

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Flannery O'Connor

You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you odd.