Kicking off the 75th anniversary of the opening of the state's iconic bridge, Gov. Jerry Brown (and other dignitaries) spoke to the thousands that gathered. Brown noted that his father served as a member of the Bridge Authority and his older sister walked across it on opening day in 1937.
He used the event as an opportunity to "champion two proposals now facing criticism -- a $68 billion high-speed rail system and a $13 billion tunnel system to route fresh water under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta."
"He said the bridge was built in the 1930s during a time of high unemployment and in the face of much skepticism. But it proved to be an important asset to future generations, much as the proposed rail and water systems could be, he said.
"So don't tell me about how much it's going to cost this year, think about how much will it give us over the next 100 years," Brown said.
In an earlier San Francisco Chronicle column, John King described the uphill battle faced by chief engineer and advocate, Joseph Strauss:
"Critics depicted the bridge as financially unsound, legally dubious, an aesthetic blight and an engineering hazard in the decade before the start of construction in 1933. The battle was most fierce in the fall of 1930, when voters in six counties were asked to allow $35 million in bond sales for construction."
Writing in California Progress Report, high speed rail blogger Robert Cruickshank expressed some of the wide skepticism toward construction of the bridge.
"Although the automobile had become a mass form of transportation by 1930, many people still didn't accept that it would become the dominant method of travel. Looking back on a past they knew well, an era where ferry boats and trains moved people around the region, the bridge's opponents were convinced that the new era promised by project supporters was nothing more than a delusional and risky fantasy."