Golden Gate Bridge Builders
Cutting the Ribbon
Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public on May 27, 1937, but the motorists who had been waiting to drive directly across the Golden Gate from San Francisco or commute from Mill Valley to San Francisco had to wait as the first day was reserved for pedestrians. The entire day saw a huge “block party” as the entire bridge was filled with pedestrians of all stripes and sizes. Eighteen thousand were waiting for the ribbon to be cut and it was estimated that 200,000 participated that first day, some in unique and even bizarre ways. Continuing and perpetuating a long San Francisco tradition, the residents of the Bay Area made it a parade and a party to remember, with many using stilts, unicycles, and roller skates to make the historic crossing. Others took advantage of the press coverage as dozens of promotional gimmicks were perpetrated in front of the hundreds of cameras and reporters present.
The next day, May 28th, 1937, saw the opening of the bridge to automobiles, with the ribbon being cut at the direction of President Roosevelt by telegraph a continent away. Over 32,000 cars crossed the bridge on its second day. The entire week was proclaimed the Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta, filled with many commemorative events and ceremonies. Charles Ellis was nowhere to seen. Joseph Strauss, in contrast, was the toast of the town, with his Golden Gate Bridge being one of the most recognized symbols of the 20th Century around the world. The Man who built the Bridge, attended the ceremonies, and he gave no speech per se, but he did read his own poem commemorating the project that was his legacy.
Unfortunately, his health did not allow him to revel in his fame too much or too long. On March 28, 1938, Joseph Strauss suffered a heart attack. He lived another two months, but died on May 16th, 1938. As he wrote in his poem about the Golden Gate Bridge , “At last the mighty task is done”, and it could be said of his life as well.