The Golden Gate Bridge is truly a stunning bridge. No matter how many times I see it- in bright sunshine, peaking out of the fog, from Marin, from San Francisco- it continues to astound me. To me, the Golden Gate Bridge symbolizes new beginnings, vitality, and promise. Clearly, I am incredibly biased in its favor, and I openly declare it to be the Most Beautiful Bridge (I have ever seen) in the World.
It’s not surprising that a significant portion of my 2014 Summer Playlist revolves around excursions near the Golden Gate Bridge. One of the things on my Playlist was : Go to the area underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. However, I wasn’t quite sure how to get there, and I didn’t even know that “area” was called Fort Point. After our epic adventure around Lands End, my friend Marissa took me right down there. It was close by and she couldn’t believe I hadn’t been there before. “It’s the first place I take people who visit from out of town,” she said.
So we went. We watched a pair of young guys vigorously paddle board from Torpedo Wharf, past us, under the bridge, then back towards Alcatraz. Hard core. They must have been training for something. Another man in a wet-suit got in the water with a kick-board, swam out into the bay a bit, then road the waves back to shore. He was recreating much more at my pace.
Then Marissa showed me Hopper’s Hands. Neither she nor anyone else around us knew the story behind Hopper’s Hands- all we knew was that runners touched them on the turn around point of their runs along the bay. There are even a little pair of doggy paws for the running pups to touch.
According to a very moving article from Runner’s World, this sign was put up by Golden Gate Bridge worker Ken Hopper. He put it there because he noticed runners would touch the fence before running back in the direction they came from. However, as the article points out, we can ascribe more meaning to Hopper’s Hands.
The Golden Gate is stunning, but it has a very dark and tragic side to it. Around 1,600 people have jumped to their deaths from The Golden Gate bridge since it was completed in 1937. Hopper has deterred 30 people from jumping. Hopper didn’t intend this meaning when he created the sign, but it seems fitting to symbolically connect his actions with the sign.
A week or so ago, I read that The Golden Gate Bridge is getting a suicide barrier. Funding was approved to install a net below the Bridge that would catch jumpers and sort of “trap” them until a bridge official came and got them. I was proud to discover that this empathetic measure was being taken. To me, a bridge that takes care of the people walking on it makes it even more beautiful. Of course, I made the mistake of reading the facebook comments that people wrote. I was shocked to find that nearly every comment responded negatively to the suicide barrier. Worse yet, most were not offering logical complaints or alternative solutions. They were simply shouting compassion-less things like “Just let them kill themselves,” or “It will ruin the beauty of the bridge.” It was terrible.
What do you think of the suicide barrier?
No really, read this article from Runners World: A Pair of Helping Hands Under the Golden Gate Bridge. This article about the suicide barrier is good too: Golden Gate Bridge Will Finally Get A Suicide Barrier. (Not the article with the terrible comments mentioned above.)