New Golden Gate Bridge pavilion under construction


The bridge has spent the last 75 years catering to the motorists, but now it's giving some very special attention to the tourists. Even first-time visitors can sense that something is especially fabulous about visiting the Golden Gate Bridge right now. "I didn't think there would be this much access for pictures and that sort of thing. It's great," tourist Marlene Sampson told ABC7.

Before now, you couldn't get this close and you didn't have as much room to take your souvenir picture. "It was congested and the space was too tiny for the number of people that come and it was the jockeying for making your way around and bikes that were getting in the way of pedestrians," said Parks Conservancy President and CEO Greg Moore. There also wasn't a museum or a central place for information even though 10 million people visit the bridge, not drive across it, just visit it, a year.

The lack of a tourist experience always surprised bridge workers and locals, but the bridge's mission is to provide safe transportation, not a tourist attraction. "Since, actually about 1950, there has been a desire to have a museum, a desire to have what we see today, but there's been no funding for it," Bridge District Spokesperson Mary Currie said.

However, the 75th anniversary has inspired big changes. The park conservancy has stepped in and created a new visitor experience. It includes a pavilion where you can buy little trinkets, but also learn about the bridge. Outside, the key word is expansion. There are new, larger, areas for picture taking. Bike lanes approaching the bridge are wider and separate from the pedestrian path. "We are offering visitor tours, brochures, and extensive exhibits both inside and outside," Moore explained.

So, what about the poor tourists who visit the beautiful bridge on a foggy day? They can still get that perfect picture and even some outrageous ones thanks to a new green screen at the bridge roundhouse. "You visit the bridge for 15 minutes or for three hours, you can find a multitude of ways to learn its fascinating stories," Moore said.

Even if you've visited before, Golden Gate Bridge is worth visiting again. Tours will begin on Tuesday.

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