Tomorrow May 27, 2012 is the 75th anniversary of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. Festivities are gong on all weekend and all year. The Bridge is a marvel of architecture and is among the most beautiful and iconic structures in the world.
In addition to its beauty, the Golden Gate Bridge is key to the success of San Francisco. It connects the City to Marin County and points north. It is a crucial link for commerce, leisure and everything else. I just read that over 1 billion vehicles has crossed the span in the 75 years since it opened. And I believe that most of them were in front of me on a Friday afternoon.
Like every other San Franciscan, I feel a close connection to this bridge. Mine is more than civic pride, though. My grandfather, John J. Casey was the City Engineer at the time the Bridge was completed in 1937. He was very involved in the building of the Bridge. Of course when I was a kid, I was convinced that he single-handedly built the entire bridge, but I have come to recognize there were a few others involved.
John Casey, City Engineer April 1937 (my grandfather)
Engineers at the Last Rivet Ceremony. From left - Clifford Paine, engineer, Joseph Strauss, chief engineer of the Bridge, John Casey (my grandfather) SF City Engineer, Arthur Brown, engineer, not sure who the guy in the hat or who the child is.
I found these original pictures in a book when my aunt died a few years ago. I sent some of them to an exhibition at the Marin County Fair last year an, probably because of that, I received a letter inviting me to come to the History Tent this morning because of my personal connection to the Bridge. I immediately called my mother, Carmel Casey Coghlan. My personal connection is her. Her connection is first hand. This morning, Steve, Maggie, me, my brother Pat and my mother will head down to the history tent so she can share her information.
She can tell them how, years after the fact, my father tried to impress her by telling her he was on the bridge the day it opened and she responded that she was on it the day BEFORE it opened to the public, riding in an official City car. She can show them these pictures of her father standing on the Bridge in April 1937, one month before the opening. Because she gave tours of the bridge for many years, she can - and likely will - tell them facts they don't know. My brother and I will sit back and watch her and marvel.
Today history will be shared, perhaps even rewritten a bit. I just hope everyone is ready for it.
Here are other pictures. I sent scans of these to the SF Library and was advised these are official Department of Public Works photos. If you look closely you can see the date and general description at the top. All pictures were taken at the Last Rivet Ceremony in April 1937
Top: Mayor Angelo Rossi and other dignitaries Next: Marin County Side showing the connection to the logging industries in the North Bay.
|The last Golden Rivet donated and handcrafted by Charles Segerstrom of Sonora (in fancy hat)|
Hammering in last "golden" rivet. Hammer was too strong for the soft gold and it disintegrated.