In 1987, as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge, 7500 personalized bricks were sold to individuals and businesses. A walkway was then constructed at the southeast visitor plaza using these memorial bricks. Starting tomorrow, January 18th, 2012, this brick walkway will be torn out, the bricks discarded and the area brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Here is an example of one brick that will disappear:
Janis Joplin was born on January 19, 1943 and 2 days from now, on what would have been her 69th birthday, her memorial brick will be gone. 8 years ago I met the gentleman who was the driving force behind this tribute to her. Until we met and talked I had not noticed this stone, and I had traveled over it many times. After our encounter I started paying attention to the names and inscriptions on the various bricks. Families, lovers, schools, Institutions and local Broadcast companies are all represented on this pathway.
The Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy is going to create a Commemorative Outdoor Recognition Panel with all 7,500 names engraved alphabetically into it. This will “commemorate these names for years to come and be easier to locate individual names listed.”
The deep-orange color of the bricks stretching out to the vista of the bridge compliments the International Orange color that is known around the world. It is a sight that I will truly miss. While I understand that it would be cost-prohibitive to save the existing bricks and that there is a need to eliminate steep grades for our visitors with disabilities I think that we have missed an opportunity to carry out both of these goals.
I am thinking outside the box here, but what if the bricks were replicated and put back in place on the new compliant walkway/plaza area? My idea is that a fundraising event could add to the number of 7500 old bricks by selling new bricks and expanding the walkway into the plaza surrounding the new exhibits. When setting a price on the new bricks, the cost of replicating the old bricks should be factored in. I think this would honor the original patrons and allow the disabled community to access the Public Area at the bridge.
This is just my opinion and not that of the GGBH&TD or anyone else who works there (to my knowledge).