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People upset over removed Golden Gate bricks

February 23, 2012 8:30:52 PM PST
The Golden Gate Bridge is about to turn 75 and as part of the celebration the visitor area is expanding. However, that means tearing down some commemorative bricks and the owners are upset they lost their piece of a famous landmark.

Thousands of visitors bought a brick to add to the walkway, thinking their personal mark would last for generations. They found out permanent doesn't really mean forever, and yet, as I found out, there is some new hope for those old bricks.

They thought their bricks would lie forever at the foot of the golden gate bridge. Instead bulldozers are ripping them out.

"It wasn't even anger at first, it was absolute shock," said Donna Evenson of San Rafael.

Evenson and her family bought two of the 7,500 bricks sold to the public 25 years ago when the world-famous span was celebrating its 50th birthday. Buyers inscribed their bricks with their names and messages to loved ones. In 1988 the bricks were laid in a garden walkway.

"Your names are now part of where everyone goes on the Golden Gate Bridge," said Evenson.

It had special meaning for Evenson. As the bridge celebrated its 50th anniversary, so were her parents. Two bricks were the perfect gift.

"Dad didn't stop talking about it for years," said Evenson.

Her parents who had watched the bridge being built, now relished their small place at the celebrated landmark.

"Everybody looked forward to going out and seeing those bricks. It was a wonderful memory," said Evenson.

They never expected bulldozers would tear out the bricks as part of a project to expand the visitor gardens in honor of the upcoming 75th anniversary.

"We've probably heard from about two dozen folks that are very upset," said Mary Currie with the Golden Gate Bridge District.

Currie says the bridge district had no choice, but to demolish the walkway because it did not meet standards for Americans with disabilities.

"Too steep, too steep. You can't see it from here, but it goes downhill," said Currie.

She says workers tried to save the bricks, but they crumbled as they were pulled out. Still, the demolition came without warning. By the time Evenson arrived to the site, her bricks were gone, leaving only dusty remnants behind a chain link fence.

"I wish they could have given us some time to maybe go out there one last time and bring the memories forward," said Evenson.

"I want people to know it was not an uncaring gesture on our part. We recognized that people would be upset, but we didn't have an alternative solution," said Currie.

Currie acknowledged brick owners thought they had a permanent place at the legendary bridge.

"Forever, always even when I'm gone, my kids they'd be able to show their offspring this? is your great, great grandparents," said Evenson.

A certificate that came with the bricks says it too: "Congratulations! Your name is permanently placed at the Golden Gate Bridge."

"All I can say is that I'm sorry for folks that thought that," said Currie.

She points to the tiny print on the original sales brochure saying, "No specific warranty on permanence is made by the installer or the District.

However here is where things look up. 7 On Your Side found out the bricks will be preserved in a special way.

"Every single brick that was in the walkway will be represented on this new tribute wall," said Currie.

A large wall at the foot of the bridge will bear the exact inscriptions of every brick that once laid there.

"They were there for people to use, to walk on, to touch to see. That part of it I'm going to really miss," said Evenson.

The District also took close up photos of every single brick. They're now available for free to owners. What's also cool is a Google Earth image of the former walkway is going up. You'll be able to zoom in on your specific brick. We're told that really is forever, at least as long as we have computers.

If you'd like to get your brick photo, you can email: info@goldengatebridge75.org


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