Newspaper writer Annie Laurie was one of William Randolph Hearst's stars. Writing for the San Francisco Examiner, she covered some of the most sensational stories in turn-of-the-century America, including the murder trial of social lion Harry K. Thaw, and San Francisco's devastating 1906 earthquake.
On March 26, 1923, she gave bridge promoter Joseph Strauss a boost with this column in favor of his Golden Gate plan.
"Span Golden Gate!" Progress Demands Conservatives Wail at "Blasphemous" Idea
By Annie Laurie
Joseph B. Strauss, Chicago bridge engineer -- is here in San Francisco choosing the site for the city end of the great Golden Ga! te Bridge.
Now let us all Old-Timers get together and have a wailing festival. Let's throw our cloaks over our heads and moan!
Where's the sack-cloth? Who among us can best lead in a long cry of dolor and distress?
What, bridge the Golden Gate! Throw a net-work of wire and steel across the entrance to the most magnificent harbor in the world?
Spoil our sunsets -- kill all the romance and beauty and mystery of the Gate loved round the world just for the sake of getting us in and out of Marin County?
Oh, the blasphemy of it! The desecration! The sacrilege!
New Ideas Repelled
So they talked when we started the Great Highway to the top of Twin Peaks. So they spoke when we first had the idea of making an automobile road over the Santa Cruz Mountains, and there are today people in this State who think it is a crime to let an automobile get within fifty miles of the Yosemite Valley.
We have fought steadily foot by foot and inch by inch against every new idea and! every new plan for the growth and the betterment of this glorious old city of ours.
And when you know the city you can't blame the conservatives.
San Francisco has its own atmosphere, its own beauty, its own history, and its own romance. There's not a street that climbs our hills but carries with it some memory rich and fragrant and intriguing.
There's not a headland that juts into the ocean but is, or has been, the stage of some strange and moving drama.
Why Not a Bridge?
Yerba Buena they used to call it -- the old town when it was a little Spanish fishing village.
Can't you imagine the dismay and the indignation in the streets of Yerba Buena when somebody built the first wooden sidewalk, put up the first lamppost and vaguely hinted the name San Francisco was something to be considered?
But just because we are rich in legend and in story, just because San Francisco is different from any other city in America today -- shall we stand back and try to hold the city down -- or shall we, in our pride, and our faith and our loyalty t! hink nothing is too good or too fine or too expensive a jewel to hang about the neck of the city of our loving loyalty?
Bridge the Golden Gate -- why not?
The city is cramped and aching for space -- every Sunday the ferries are crowded to the very water's edge with eager pilgrims fairly thirsting to get out into the green hill.
Why not give them every chance to go -- by boat, by automobile, and on foot?
Why not open up the great rich counties of Marin, and Napa and Sonoma -- why leave these gold mines at our gate -- half-mined and half-explored?
Brooklyn bridge is one of the most beautiful and picturesque things in New York -- when they started to build it half of New York rose in frenzied protest -- it was a wild dream, it was a chimerical scheme -- what would Peter Stuyvesant say if he could hear of such a thing? Why, he'd turn over in his grave, wooden leg and all, even at the whisper of it.
But the bridge was built and Brooklyn and New York! doubled in population.
What would the Argonauts of forty-nine say if they could rouse from their deep sleep and hear this talk of bridging the Golden Gate?
They'd be for it -- every man of them -- they were not stay-at-homes -- and "let well-enough-alone" men -- those Argonauts of ours.
Because a thing was new -- that was no reason that it was bound to be bad -- not to the mind of the bold men who left old times behind them and crossed the continent to build their hopes anew.
They left the "has-beens" and "never-can-bes" at home -- the forty-niners.
I'd like to call a convention of ghosts and put the matter to a vote -- can you imagine Hearst, Mackay, O'Brien, Phelan, or any of the rest of the men whose courage and determined optimism developed this California of ours -- voting "No" when it came to a question of a great plan for the benefit of a great multitude of Californians.
Besides -- it was Mrs. Partington, wasn't it, who tried to sweep back the ocean with her little household broom?
Are we going to be Mrs. Partingtons and attempt! to hold back by main strength the splendid sweep and rush of progress here in San Francisco?
What's the use -- what's the common sense -- what's the answer?
My American Experience
From the Empire State Buiding to the carvings on Mount Rushmore, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Space Needle, the U.S. has dozens of impressive, important, and iconic structures. Which ones have you been to? Which has had the biggest impact?