Cables being installed on the Golden Gate Bridge in 1936. (Associated Press )
The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco turns 75 this year with a birthday bash festival over Memorial Day weekend, a new visitor center and new guided tours. There's a lot going on (75 events during the year) to mark the day the first car rolled over the bridge on May 27, 1937.
So what's changed in 7 1/2 decades? It has become San Francisco's most iconic landmark and the centerpiece of a national parkland flanked by two former U.S. Army posts, Ft. Baker and the Presidio. About 10 million tourists visit the bridge every year, and this year's festivities will probably boost that number.
The two-day Golden Gate Festival on May 26 and 27 will feature entertainment and exhibits from the bridge to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. By then, at the south side of the bridge, a new Bridge Pavilion will be open as a visitor center and museum store, the current Round House at the site will become an education center and guided tours lasting 45 minutes to an hour will be led during the day and, for the first time, at night too.
And there also will be a green-screen photo area where visitors can take pictures of themselves in front of the virtual bridge. Why the doppelganger? "When the bridge does its disappearing act, you can come in and still get a great photo in front of the bridge," says David Shaw of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.
Funds for the bridge's year-long celebration were raised from private contributions and corporate sponsors. For more information, visit the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary.