If the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th birthday celebration proved anything to an architecture critic visiting from Los Angeles, it was that Southern California doesn't seem to have any single structure with the power to unify the region the way the bridge unifies the Bay Area.
The weekend's events included music and dance performances near the bridge, art exhibits and countless articles and panel discussions on its history and design. It all culminated in a fireworks display Sunday night. After a cool and foggy morning the skies cleared by late afternoon, giving a direct view to people watching from spots near the bridge, out on the water and even -- in one touch reminiscent of L.A. -- helicopters circling above.
I watched the fireworks with my family from the deck of the house in the Berkeley Hills where I grew up, and where my parents still live. An optical illusion of sorts makes it seem as though many parts of the East Bay hills are exactly opposite the Golden Gate, and that illusion seemed especially strong during the fireworks, which began with a spectacular effect that lighted up each end of the bridge's deck before twin trails of light raced to meet in the middle.