Golden Gate Bridge, April 2006
I like to often say that the Golden Gate Bridge is the most beautiful bridge in the world...during the daytime. There has never been a more perfect coupling of rugged natural beauty and a daring, orange-red colored, Art Deco structure that seems to exist in harmony with the craggy rocks, the white surf, the diamond-covered bay, the white sails, and the greenery around the Marin headlands. During my 2+ years in the Bay Area, the Golden Gate Bridge has come to signify "San Francisco," "beauty," and "home." When I am lost (physically and spiritually), my eyes unconsciously seek out the Golden Gate Bridge and I can see it from UCSF like a shining red North Star that can give me my bearings and lead me back home.
There is a nursery school on 10th and Kirkham called "Gates and Bridges Nursery School." I like the concept of gates -- like the gates around Harvard Yard -- that stand open and waiting for travelers. Likewise, I like the concept of bridges (as Kim pointed out a few years ago), because of the beauty of their inherent function -- to connect two separated places together. Once in college, we had to use little Post-It arrows on a map of Boston to mark out our favorite place in the Cambridge/Boston area...and I chose to mark the MIT bridge (ah, where the #1 Mass Ave bus crosses!) because there were some moments when the view of the Charles River literally stole my breath away. At night, you can see the bright lights of the city twinkling in the water. In the winter, you can see the Charles River frozen over. But the best view from the bridge is during the summer, when the bright sunshine illuminates the blue water and the white, delicate sailboats look like wisps of cotton.
But I digress. As I said before, the most beautiful bridge in the daytime is the Golden Gate Bridge. However, the most beautiful bridge in the nighttime is actually the Golden Gate's ugly step-cousin, the double-decker, gray-colored, industrial-looking Bay Bridge. Like Cinderella, the Bay Bridge is a structural equivalent to Sarah, Plain and Tall during the day...it merely functions (somewhat) well and takes you from here to there. However, when night falls, the Golden Gate Bridge disappears from view and the Bay Bridge explodes into luminescence. As the sunlight fades, the Bay Bridge becomes a jewel-encrusted belle covered in delicate strands of shining lights from view of the Embaracadero. A very pretty sight when dining there at sunset.
So I like to always tell visiting friends that if San Francisco is my home, then the Golden Gate is my SUN and the Bay Bridge is my MOON. In this city by the bay, I will never grow tired of these celestial wonders.