Golden Gate Bridge 75th Birthday Fireworks (portrait view)

Happy 75th Birthday

Golden Gate Bridge 75th Birthday Fireworks (portrait view)
Click to enlarge.

Yesterday was the official celebration for the 75th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the most visited city in the world. (Paris is number two.)

For the past two weeks I’ve been scouting around, trying to find the best place to shoot the fireworks display. Hawk Hill? Slacker Hill? Cavallo Point? Fort Baker? I decided it should be Slacker Hill, though the hike up is a very steep .4 miles. Carrying the camera equipment, dinner, chairs, extra layers, etc. would not be easy! (And god knows, it wasn’t! Poor Steve made the round trip 3 times yesterday!)

Around 2:30pm, we drove up to see if we could find a parking place anywhere near the trail head. Shockingly, we were able to off-road park right at the entrance to the trail! (I had secretly hoped we wouldn’t; so, we could go to option two where parking would be easy and close.)

When we arrived, about 10 photographers had already set up. By event time, about 40 photographers were all in line. I decided I didn’t want my photos to all be from the same angle (which didn’t provide a good view of the entire bridge); so, we moved a bit further away to a different vantage point.

The wind on top of Slacker Hill (badly named!) was fiercely  cold and intense (21 mph we were told). The hike up was shielded from the wind. Everyone first arrived sweating and hot. That quickly changed. Within an hour I was clad in 5 layers that included a corduroy shirt, heavy vest, fleece coat, and heavy winter coat of down, as well as two hats. Thank goodness my ears were completely covered from the wind and cold!

Several people hiked up for a quick picture of the bridge on its birthday, but none were as fun as two (very in shape and attractive) ladies who had hiked up from the Spencer trail head–a good mile of up, up, up! They were delightful! They made a movie on the iPhone of their singing “Happy Birthday” to the bridge. When deciding who all to send their movie to, I asked them to add me to their email list, and they did–with full permission to post it here on my blog! So… here you have it! Thanks, Linda Lee from Porto Bello! You ladies are a blast!



Tim Frozen Golden Gate 75th BirthdayBy the time the sun was setting, I thought I would become a block of ice! The wind was sooooo cold! But, just as forecast, once the sun was gone, the wind stopped, and the temperature went up! I had been watching the fog patterns. As close as it would get, the fog never entered the bay entrance! The weather patterns here fascinate me.

No one knew for sure from where the fireworks would be launched. Rumors abounded: some said the bridge itself (very unlikely), others said barges in the bay, one even reported from the point.

About an hour before celebration time, the Coast Guard began clearing the main section of the bay itself both in and outside of the bridge. Five barges began making their way toward the bridge. Oh my! This was going to be spectacular!! Hundreds of boats, behind the safety line, dotted the bay, all eager to see up close and personal what was about to unfold.

Then, about 30 minutes before fireworks time the traffic on the bridge was stopped. The Highway Patrol made several sweeps to be certain no one was on the bridge. No one and nothing was allowed on the bridge. Why? We were soon to see!

Suddenly, the lights to the bridge went off all at once! Complete darkness.

KFOG began the simulcast music (which we could not hear on Slacker Hill–sadly, no radios). The fireworks began with a stunning cascade of fire and light from the linear edge of the bridge itself. Lasers beamed patterns into the smoke. The barges shot their fireworks into the night sky. Thousands of fireworks lit the night from the bridge itself, all synchronized in a beautiful dance of unexpected patterns and designs (even red hearts!) I’ve never before seen. The 20 minute display was simply the most stunning fireworks display I’ve ever seen!

I only had one camera with me and had to decide if I should see the whole bridge or use my 200mm zoom lens, which I typically use for fireworks. You can see what I chose.

Traffic control could not have been better. Obviously a great deal of attention was given to moving people into and out of the Marin Headlands. The plan and execution were flawless! Once off of the hill, we were home in less than 10 minutes!

Bravo! Bravo! Applause, standing ovation, and sincere thanks to the many, many people who were involved in putting together the most spectacular birthday celebration I’ve ever seen in my life! Literally no one in attendance last night will ever forget the 75th birthday celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge!

Enjoy the highlight shots, and check out 80 photo slideshow from the birthday fireworks celebration at the very end of this post.

Golden Gate Bridge 75th Birthday Celebration - All Dark
All Dark in Anticipation!


Golden Gate Bridge 75th Birthday Celebration - Cascades of Light
Cascades of Light


Golden Gate Bridge 75th Birthday Celebration - Stunning Beginning
Stunning Beginning


Golden Gate Bridge 75th Birthday Celebration - Near the End
Near the End


Golden Gate Bridge 75th Birthday Celebration - A New Era
A New Era Begins


Don’t forget you can use the fullscreen button in the bottom right of the player to fill your screen with high resolution images designed specifically for your monitor’s size. Because they are designed for your monitor size, the first time you play the slideshow in full screen, it make take a little time to transition from one image to the next. The server is busy at work.

4 thoughts on “Happy 75th Birthday”

  1. What a treat to read and see. Oddest music/fireworks pairing from a guy who heard all but saw liittle — Metallica sequeing to Tony Bennett.

  2. Great shot, grand adventure! Come on you two- “Carrying the camera equipment, dinner, chairs, extra layers, etc.” you and Steve make it sound like Lewis and Clark! Any bears? Any indians? Anybody speaking Russian? Obviously I’m jealous.

    1. Thanks, Suzanne. It’s more the equipment than any talent, I’m afraid. But had a great time shooting and sharing them!

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