Happy Birthday to the Majestic Orange Queen of the West, the most prolific symbol of San Francisco- “The Golden Gate Bridge” who commemorates her 75th Birthday. She was born on May 27th, 1937, amidst a tumultuous controversy, surviving her conception planning through the Depression, and the opposition of litigation, environmentalists, historians, protests, skeptics, and the objection of the Department of War; to name just a few deterrents.
The Golden Gate is said to be the most photographed bridge in the world, and was the record holder for the first engineering spectacle to span over 4000 feet. This was the longest bridge span in history for several decades; until it was surpassed in 1964. She held her magical record for 37 years; a tribute to the year of her birth.
Originally designed by her engineering dream-weaver, and arguably her original father, Joseph Strauss; her birth was planned on drawings and sketches spanning nearly two decades. Although she triumphantly realized fruition in 1937; her original birthday was marred by a celebration that ended in fights and a small riot; and protests by Ferry operators and numerous other dissenters. The senior engineer of the bridge, genius Charles Ellis, was given little or no consideration for his design skills; and was not recognized for his substantial contribution until he was finally awarded credit in May 1997, long after his death.
At least 11 men were killed during her construction, and Joseph Strauss- the acclaimed father of the bridge, died less than a year after she was conceived.
Ironically, the last two surviving construction workers of the bridge, Ashoff and Balestreri- who would have been the only living celebrants from the original crew; both died a month ago, a few days apart from each other.
But the magnificent Orange Queen, who is the star of many films and books; has also set darker world records. Since her conception 75 years ago, at least 1400 counted people have chosen her as their host for suicide.
The Golden Gate is eerily the site most chosen on earth for suicides; another mysterious tribute to her arcane and bittersweet biography. With a fatality rate of 98%, and a deck 245 feet above water; the orange queen transforms herself into the dark Goddess Hecate- enabling souls to depart this earth at a rate of 75 miles per hour, taking only 4 seconds to reach their final destination.
And when she glistens and sparkles at night, flaunting her beauty and splendor- the winds of the Bay whisper the distant cries of her departed visitors. While hundreds of thousands of cheering spectators celebrate her birthday amidst a magnificent fireworks display this week; they overcome the voices of the souls that have literally taken flight from her arms into the awaiting afterlife.
And looking into the western sky we can hear the echos of the song that was played 75 years ago on the resplendid Orange Queens birthday; “There’s a Silver Moon On the Golden Gate”.