This reporter has to admit, living in San Francisco is different than visiting San Francisco. This is especially so for those born here or have become transplanted natives to the area.
Of course each person and group sees things a bit differently, depending upon their point of view or reference. For this reporter I look at the Golden Gate Bridge as something I grew up with. It's familiar tall towers with suspension cables rising up like arms to greet you as you drive across.
Both my parents and so many of their generation remember the day it was opened back in May of 1937. It was a marvel of modern engineering and the risk of many lives as countless hours of manual labor was invested.
Yet, once completed it soon became more than a landmark, it became an icon. When I say I took it for granted as I kid, yeah, it's true. I had not traveled much, not until after high school as I ventured off to college. In fact, it was not until after high school that I actually walked on the bridge.
See it up close and realizing all the workmanship that went into it it really does impress. Just this past May, San Francisco had the wonderful opportunity to celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the dedication of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Months before the mega-planned event with its spectacular fireworks display, a new visitors pavilion was constructed. Previous monuments and constructional improvements added over the years were moved or torn asunder, like those thousands of commemorative red bricks that citizens bought through donations.
Whether 'the-powers-that-be' were short-sighted or not, the decision to tear apart the bricks, perhaps, sent out the wrong message, especially to residents and natives.
So, as someone who grew up here and one who rides the #28 Bus on the City's MUNI system, passing by the Bridge to and from work every week, it all seemed like a miscalculated mess. Traffic jams and dust and crowds of tourists not knowing where to stand to wait for the bus.
The #28 MUNI bus is a major transportation life-line for the citizens of San Francisco. It connects the North-side of the City with its south-West-side, and going beyond towards the SF Peninsula into San Mateo County.
Upon arriving at Golden Gate Bridge whether going to Fort Mason or coming from Fort Mason to the BART station at Daly City, the bus also helps commuters connect to Marin County and beyond. Transfer points for Golden Gate Transit which serves Marin, Sonoma and parts just beyond there are set at Golden Gate Bridge or at points along the route to Golden Gate Bridge.
Needless to say, this reporter and anyone else who rides the #28 MUNI bus knows quite well how many people (tourists and visitors) travel to and from the Bridge thanks to public transit.
Yet, seeing the mess and construction going on all around, including Doyle Drive demolition, I could just hear my parents saying "what are they doing now?"
The changes to the overpasses and roadway to and from the Bridge are startling, especially for someone who has lived here a long time. And, that pavilion that to me looks like a large red rectangular box seems to only block more scenic views.
Yet, seeing the fireworks and all the people celebrating the Bridge, that made all the changes worth while. Yes, this reporter was stuck amid the crowds that weekend on the #28 Bus. But for all the crowds and milling about, people were still enthusiastic about their bridge.
I had to take a step back a moment and realize that even though the changes were disruptive and I like many natives might not agree with them, they were needed. The San Francisco my parents, grandparents and even those of the Haight-Asburry generation knew so well is gone.
Only faded remnants remain as the 21st Century advances forward. Sometimes it pains me. But at other times I have to accept it. For as it is, all the things that have changed in San Francisco, have also changed the entire world. We are not an isolated spot on the map.
And, so the new pavilion is there greeting visitors, and while those commemorative bricks are gone and the other monuments, statues moved, there is still amble room for visitors to roam around in. More vista-look-out points have been added.
And, observing the scores upon scores of people from all over the world who take the #28 bus to get to their chosen destination, the Golden Gate Bridge is as popular as ever. It is a miracle - so to speak that so many visitors can find there way, because often times many a MUNI bus driver on that line is not helpful or is not able to say much in the visitors language.
Still it is a delight to watch the tourists eyes open wide or their voices exclaim in whatever language they speak, "look there it is - the Golden Gate Bridge!"
In 1987 my mom and dad were among the thousands of people who walked across the bridge in celebration of its 50th Anniversary. I was away at college then. And, I recall my mom sending a letter and making a special phone call just to say, she and my dad walked the bridge. They also were stuck there for a moment as crowds on either side of the bridge, pushing against each other collectively, could not move. "it was a scary moment," my mom said to me. Yet she and my dad would not have missed it, it meant that much to them.
So, while I got over the stress of the crowds on the bus and the extended amount of time it took to get home, I had to realize something.
Shortly there after the Bridge's celebration, there was the Queen's Diamond Jubilee televised on American TV from Great Britain. Suddenly, I then understood why my parents were so eager to be part of the celebration. Not only is it about history but it is about a part of their lives.
And, so, while The Golden Gate Bridge and the new construction changes what I knew of the place I call home, the world is now able to visit and will no doubt usher in a new chapter of history to everyone's favorite city, San Francisco.