May 28, 2012 in Nation/World

Thousands gather in Bay Area to mark milestone for icon

John S. Marshall Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

With sailors on deck, the USS Nimitz passes beneath the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday during a celebration of the bridge’s 75th anniversary.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

SAN FRANCISCO – Crowds gathered along San Francisco’s waterfront Sunday, while San Francisco Bay was crowded with pleasure boats, tug boats and other vessels as the city celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Tens of thousands of people were expected to flock to the area to enjoy a number of events taking place along a section of waterfront stretching from Fort Point south of the bridge to Pier 39 along The Embarcadero.

“Everyone is biking and walking and looks very happy,” said Mary Currie, public affairs director for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

“We’re off to a great start.”

Since it opened in 1937, more than 2 billion vehicles have crossed the 1.7-mile-long bridge named after the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance of water to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, and championed by engineer Joseph Strauss in the 1920s.

The California Highway Patrol was planning on shutting down traffic across the bridge from 9 p.m. through 10 p.m. for a monumental fireworks display set to take place over the bridge.

In a stark contrast to the thousands of celebrants, members of the group the Bridge Rail Foundation, an organization dedicated to stopping suicide jumps from the bridge, erected a display of 1,558 pairs of shoes, representing the number of people who died in leaps from the bridge since it opened in 1937.

“It’s a symbol of how deep and serious this problem has been,” said Paul Muller, a spokesman for the group. “We’re still losing 30 to 35 a people a year off the bridge,” he said.

Meanwhile on the water, Golden Gate ferries were running again after a one-day strike disrupted service across San Francisco Bay on Saturday.

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