The organizers of the 50th Anniversary Celebration for the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco expected perhaps 50,000 people to participate in their open bridge walk, so they were pretty shocked, and unprepared, when 800,000 showed up.
I was visiting that great city for the first time and happened to be there during that week in May 1987 when the celebration took place. My friends and I didn’t get far as we tried to join the walkers on the bridge, but I took plenty of photographs of the excited celebrants along the way. And, reading reports afterwards it may be for the best that we didn’t get onto the bridge proper, as it was stressed beyond what it was built to handle. With the bridge over-crowded and swaying wildly in the wind wide-spread nausea and claustrophobia was common amongst those who did make it.
Here is a fascinating research paper on what happened that day, and why, by Professor Spiro N. Pollalis and his Research Assistant Caroline Otto of the Laboratory for Construction Technology, Graduate School of Design at Harvard University:
The assumption is that the city will be better prepared for this weekend’s Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary festivities.