Few American landmarks are as recognized, photographed and beloved as the Golden Gate Bridge, which celebrated its 75th anniversary this weekend with a full slate of free performances, festivals and fireworks displays around San Francisco and the Bay Area.
The weekend’s festivities were the highlight of a full year of celebrations, which included exhibits, lectures, performances, concerts and film screenings dedicated to the iconic landmark. One thing visitors shouldn’t expect is unrestricted pedestrian access; city officials learned their lesson from the bridge’s 50th anniversary celebrations, when more than 300,000 people crowded the main thoroughfare causing the center portion of the bridge to flatten out.
In appropriate fashion, the bridge also received a touch of “sparkle” for its 75th, in the form of a new art and science installation called Solar Beacon, which opened on Sunday. According to the Los Angeles Times, the installation involves a set of remote control mirrors positioned on top of the bridge’s towers, which have the capacity to reflect narrow beams of light across the San Francisco Bay. The installation will also be participatory; residents are invited to log onto Solar Beacon’s website and input a particular place and time, and the project will direct the light’s beam there.
[flickr image above via Argent_G37S]
Police in Germany have arrested two thieves who were in the process of cutting “lovers’ padlocks” off Cologne’s Hohenzollern Bridge, a popular tourist attraction that spans the Rhine River. The padlocks, which were left by amorous couples who attach the locks to the bridge and then toss the key into the river below to symbolize eternal love, were presumably being stolen for their scrap value.
“I spotted two men on the other side of the bridge tampering with the lovers’ padlocks, so I called for back-up straight away,” a police officer said. The men tried to flee but were apprehended on the bridge. In a wheeled suitcase, police discovered 50 padlocks and a lock cutter. According to police, the men will appear in court on charges of property damage.
Click here to view a gallery of the lovers’ padlocks taken last May in Germany.
Anyone with plans to visit San Francisco in the next year should take advantage of a program of “75 Tributes” that the Bay Area is planning to honor the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. Bay Area museums, cultural centers, universities, arts organizations, and more are coming together to create a roster of exhibits, lectures, performances, concerts and film screenings that honor the iconic span–most of which are absolutely free. A full schedule of events is available at goldengatebridge75.org
The main event, however, is a birthday bash set for May 26-27th. Unlike the 50th anniversary celebration, officials won’t close the bridge to traffic (last time they tried this, an unnerving 300,000 people crowded onto the bridge at one time causing it to loose its natural curve). This year, the free celebration will be held on the waterfront and will feature music and other entertainment, exhibits with memorabilia and historic artifacts, guided walks, and a “spectacular surprise finale,” according to the San Francisco tourism department.
The area around iconic span will also undergo some dramatic changes intended to create an atmosphere that is more like a national park. As it stands, visitors to the bridge are greeted by little more than a gift shop and snack bar. That gift shop, known as the Round House, will be converted into a welcome center where visitors will be able to organize a guided tour or get their picture taken in front of a green screen of the bridge (which will probably be popular on foggy days). The snack bar will be renovated into a cafe featuring a menu of locally-grown foods. Outside, the bridge plaza will get new wayfaring signs and two scenic overlooks will be built. Construction on a new 3,500-square-foot pavilion that will is also underway. Perhaps most amazingly, no bridge tolls or tax dollars are being used for the renovations–all of the improvements are coming from private donations.
(Image above: Cars crossing the Golden Gate Bridge on its opening day in 1937)
Near the city of Amarapura, in the mysterious Asian nation of Myanmar, lies the famous U Bein teak bridge. Every day at dawn, and again at sunset, groups of monks and nearby villagers traverse its aging surface, their bodies silhouetted against the sharply angular rays of the sun. Flickr user t3mujin was lucky enough to be there one recent sunset to witness the spectacle. A lone monk traverses the bridge in an ocher robe while the setting Burmese sun softens the light behind to milky whites and faint blueish hues.
Taken any great travel shots of your own recently? Why not add them our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.