CA -- San Francisco -- Golden Gate Bridge (North Side) Visitor Center:
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GGBNVC_130726_001.JPG: The Glorious Golden Gate
Born and raised in San Francisco
the pride of the "Bear Flag State"
my heart knows it's coming home
when I cross the Golden Gate.
Greeting Marin County,
she spans the ocean's roar,
connecting to the headlands,
rolling hills and rocky shore.
Born of a dream:"It can't be done!" they cried.
But gallantly she stands,
A monument to man,
his aspirations and his pride.
Lofty spires reaching for the sky,
royal arches beckon you,
she's the nugget of the West Coast,
queen of the Pacific blue.
Circling her towers
are crowns of silver mist,
peeking through the fog banks
Mister Sun blows her a kiss.
Smiling a sunny welcome,
to strangers out at sea,
feeling her outstretched arms
is coming home to me!
We love our Marin County,
our emerald by the bay,
and to the glorious Golden Gate,
happy 50th birthday!
GGBNVC_130726_007.JPG: Geology – Formation of the Mountains:
California's geography is the result of complex and dynamic forces. Various processes have continuously formed and reformed the land's surface as the crust has been pushed, stretched, torn, and eroded. At the same time, change has altered the ocean's level, shifting the shore of the Pacific between the Sierra Nevada and the Farallon Islands. This ongoing series of movements and climatic changes has created California's dramatic mountains, river valleys, and broad plains.
The San Francisco Bay area lies at the base of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers in the midst of the Coast Ranges. These ranges parallel the California coast for 880 kilometers (550 miles) from the South Fork Mountains in Humboldt County to the Santa Ynez Mountains in Santa Barbara. They are a chaotic mass of ocean floor and layered sediments whose composition point to the processes that formed them.
Two separate periods of earth movements formed the Coast Ranges. The first took place as the sea floor began to slide beneath the western edge of the American continent. The continent grew as chunks of ocean sediment and rock crammed against the landmass. Mountains and valleys were formed as areas of land sank or rose and were subjected to erosion and sedimentation. Higher temperatures elevated sea levels, breaching coastal mountains and filling valleys with ocean water. At one time the entire Central Valley was an inland sea before filling with sediment.
Then, 40 to 50 million years ago, lateral movement began along the San Andreas Fault System. The System is made up of multiple fault lines that lie within a narrow zone and separate a sliver of land from the rest of the continent. This western-most sliver is now moving northwest 25 to 50 millimeters (one to two inches) a year. The San Andreas Fault is the most well known fault of the System. It runs three kilometers (two miles) west of the Golden Gate Bridge, and its trace is clearly seen as it passes through the finger like lagoon of Tomales Bay before reentering the ocean.
First the Sierra Nevada and then the Coast Rangers were built as the ocean floor slid beneath the American continent in a process known as subduction.
GGBNVC_130726_010.JPG: The Golden Gate Bridge:
The Golden Gate Bridge is a structure of striking form and elegance. Built in 1937, it remains in indispensable link in the Bay Area's transportation network and a historical monument of civil engineering and construction. The bridge is named for the Golden Gate Strait, where the mouth of the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. References to the area as the Golden Gate exist before the gold rush began and before the idea of a bridge was conceived. The Bay's poppy and bunch-grass covered hills and dramatic golden light are an enduring source of inspiration.
The dream of spanning the Golden Gate was expressed as early as the 1850s. Michael O'Shaughnessy, City Engineer of San Francisco and engineer for San Francisco's Hetch Hetchy water system, was the first to seriously consider and champion construction of the bridge. He proposed the idea to Joseph B. Strauss in 1915, who was to become the Chief Engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge, and the bridge's foremost proponent. The design of the bridge was realized through the expertise of the engineers, Charles Ellis, Charles Derleth, Leon Moisseiff, and OH Amman, and the architect, Irving F. Morrow.
Morrow is responsible for the aesthetic details of the bridge, including its International Orange color. He felt this contrasting color would complement at bay's cool gray and blue skies, enhancing the dramatic scale and setting of Golden Gate Bridge.
Over four years, countless laborers worked to transform drawings into structure. The bridgemen, as they were known, stoically managed extreme heights and massive materials to complete one of the world's most beloved suspension bridges.
The San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary has been essential to California's urban and agricultural development. For thousands of years the estuary's water supported fishing, harvesting, and transportation for Native American Miwok. The arrival of Spanish and Portuguese ships in bat's shelter initiated the ongoing expansion of California's population. The estuary's role grew with the increasing population. Today it continues to be a critical resource, providing safe access to the coast, supporting recreational and commercial activities, and sustaining fresh water supplies for the Bay area and much of California.
Soon after the arrival of the Spanish and Portuguese immigrants, thousands of settlers flocked to coastal rivers and mountains to search for gold and trade goods. Still more followed as the railroad extended west. Ferries and steamboats carried people across the bay before cars and bridges were built. Shipping ports emerged along the bay's shores bringing raw materials and practical and exotic goods to support the expanding population.
Because of their early prominence the ports themselves became cities, and many of them remain operational today. Among them, the Port of Oakland is prominent internationally.
Beyond the estuary's crucial transportation role, the fresh waters of the delta have sustained California's growth. Over 40 percent of California's fresh water drains to the Pacific Ocean through the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary Watershed. The fresh water is intercepted as it enters the delta and rerouted to California homes, businesses, and farms via the State Water Project. This project is a vast system of pumping and power plants, dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts of which the California Aqueduct is the main canal. Through the State Water Project, two-thirds of California's population gets its water. Seventy percent of this water goes to urban uses and 30 percent to agricultural uses. Overall, 80 percent of California's developed water supply is used for irrigated agriculture.
GGBNVC_130726_039.JPG: The Bay Transformed:
For thousands of years Native Americans lived in the Bay Area harvesting animals, salt, and acorns. The changes they made to the landscape were limited. They used fire to shape oak woodlands and grasslands, cultivated plants, and collected salt in tidal marsh ponds. More recent human activity has dramatically altered the bay ecosystem to its detriment. Efforts to protect and restore the ecosystem have emerged as we have gained understanding of its immeasurable value.
The Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers carry eroded rock and soil to the bay as sediment. During the last 200 years, humans have greatly accelerated this natural process, shrinking the overall area of tidal marsh. In the 1800s, Gold mining washed over 765 million cubic meters (one billion cubic yards) of the Sierra Nevada into the bay. Early State legislation encouraged the conversion of wetlands to farmlands, while cities filled marshes to expand their boundaries. By 1950, only 25 percent of historic tidal marsh remained. At the same time, inadequate sewage treatment and unregulated dumping of industrial wastes polluted the water. Together these changes seriously compromised the health of California's largest estuary.
Attitudes shifted as understanding of wetland's invaluable processes grew. Images of reeds and egrets replaced those of mud and mosquitoes, leading to regulation of bay fill and pollution. However, over threats persist. Water diversions and agriculture and urban uses disrupt fresh water flows, altering the bay's salinity and flow patterns. Contaminants from urban and agricultural run-off are washed into the estuary during winter storms, and pollution from past unregulated dumping remains in its sediment. Non-native species of plants and animals, erosion, and rising sea level are further concerns.
These changes present a considerable challenge to the restoration of the estuary's ecological processes. Restoration is a developing science, and much is unknown about the long-term success of these efforts. Coordinated research, planning, and implementation of restoration projects are crucial to find environmental solutions that benefit the diverse community of plants, animals and people that depend on this invaluable ecosystem.
GGBNVC_130726_045.JPG: H. Dana Bowers Memorial Vista Point
H. Dana Bowers (1903-1977)
Supervising Landscape Architect for the California Division of Highways, created and nurtured California's highway beautification program from 1936 to 1964.
This vista point, designed by Mr. Bowers, is one of many highway improvements which are the result of his leadership, innovation and lifelong dedication to attractive highway design, landscaping, erosion control and roadside improvements.
His work is quietly reflected in the beauty of many California highways.
GGBNVC_130726_051.JPG: The Lone Sailor
This is a memorial to everyone who ever sailed out the Golden Gate in the service of their Country – in the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, the Merchant Marine.
A ship heading for sea passes directly by this spot at the northern end of the Golden Gate. Here the Sailor feels the first long roll of the sea, the beginning of the endless horizon that leads to the far Pacific.
There is one last chance to look back at the city of San Francisco, shining on its hills, one last chance to look back at the coastline of the United States, one last chance to look back at home.
Thousands and thousands of American seafarers have sailed past this place, in peace and war, to defend this Country and its sea frontiers. Many of them never returned. This monument is dedicated to the ordinary Sailors and Marines who sailed from this place and did their duty.
AAA "Gem": AAA considers this location to be a "must see" point of interest. To see pictures of other areas that AAA considers to be Gems, click here.
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