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1920s Shocker: Not Everyone Wanted the Golden Gate Bridge

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Here at Curbed SF HQ, we're fans of the Chronicle's architecture and urban design critic John King. Welcome to Today In John King, an ongoing series of posts keeping up with his opinions and enthusiasms.


Photo Credit: California Historical Society via SF Gate]

Few visual images possess the power to be both immediately recognizable and induce longing. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of them, appearing in unknowable numbers of illustrations, posters, snapshots, pixels, and memories. Today in the Chronicle John King looks over the now-surprising battle to get it built, and without once using the term "NIMBY." Seems that putting up the now-iconic orange span was not a universally beloved project, bringing in all the usual suspects we're familiar with today— commercial stakeholders like the ferry and steamship companies, those wanting their view of the majestic Marin Headlands to remain inviolate, hand-wringers concerned about safety, plus the economic boondogglers who said there would never be enough traffic to use it to repay the bonds. King wisely puts it down to a vision issue, bringing in the much-debated high speed rail project currently looming over us, and reminds us that the far-reaching BART was bitterly fought over in the early '60s. Accompanying the article is a gallery of evocative contemporary images and press clippings. King finishes off with a selection of quotes, our favorite of which was from photographer Ansel Adams, no stranger to majestic landscapes:

"I remember thousands of people fought the Golden Gate Bridge. My mother used to think it was 'just terrible, ruining the Gate.' Well, the bridge is up. I personally don't think it was so bad. I think it's a very majestic structure."
· Golden gate Bridge Construction- and Indignation [John King/SF Gate]

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA