SAN FRANCISCO — Crowds gathered along San Francisco's waterfront Sunday, while San Francisco Bay was crowded with pleasure boats, tugboats and other vessels as the city celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Tens of thousands of people were expected to flock to the area. At least several thousand people had gathered along the waterfront by Sunday afternoon, said Mary Currie, public affairs director for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.
"Everyone is biking and walking and looks very happy," she said. "We're off to a great start."
San Francisco resident Daniel Sutphin and his family were among those in the crowd enjoying the day and the views of the bridge.
"It's such an iconic structure, depending on the day or the hour, it just looks like it changes continuously," Sutphin said as he walked with his wife and their three young children.
It opened to the public on May 27, 1937, and opened to traffic a day later. Since, more than 2 billion vehicles have crossed the 1.7-mile-long bridge named after the Golden Gate Strait, the entrance of water to San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, and championed by engineer Joseph Strauss in the 1920s.
Because of the crowds expected and with no parking available near the bridge, officials were urging people to take mass transit to the anniversary events.
The California Highway Patrol planned to shut down traffic across the bridge from 9 p.m. through 10 p.m. for a monumental fireworks display set to take place over the span.
In a stark contrast to the celebration, members of the group the Bridge Rail Foundation, a group dedicated to stopping suicide jumps from the bridge, erected a display of 1,558 pairs of shoes, representing the number of people who died in leaps from the bridge since it opened.
"It's a symbol of how deep and serious this problem has been," said Paul Muller, a spokesman for the group. "We're still losing 30 to 35 a people a year off the bridge."