In 1941’s The Maltese Falcon, the camera establishes the locale as San Francisco by slowly panning iconic landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge. At the film’s end, hard-boiled private detective Sam Spade reflects that the titular black bird is “the stuff that dreams are made of.”

The Golden Gate Bridge began as the dream of railroad entrepreneur Charles Crocker. In 1872, Crocker envisioned a bridge spanning the Golden Gate Strait, where San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. The realization of that dream took 61 years, and the Golden Gate Bridge’s early history had as many twists and turns as The Maltese Falcon‘s plot line.

In short, bridge construction began on January 5, 1933. The bridge opened in 1937: to pedestrian traffic on May 27 and to vehicular traffic on May 28. (This YouTube video captures the excitement of Pedestrian Day in 1937:

San Francisco Chronicle reporter Wills O’Brien reported that: “A necklace of surpassing beauty was placed about the throat of San Francisco yesterday”  (

The gleaming jewel of San Francisco marks its 75th anniversary in 2012. The yearlong 75th anniversary celebration for the Golden Gate Bridge includes classic elements of a business anniversary “sell”-abration:

  • Anniversary-year branding message: “Bridging Us All — Celebrating 75 Years”
  • Anniversary website:
  • Anniversary publication: “75 Ways to Celebrate the Golden Gate Bridge” (available for PDF download at the anniversary website)
  • Anniversary social media: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr
  • Anniversary-day event: “Golden Gate Festival” on May 27, 2012 with fireworks; an art exhibit; displays of cars, motorcycles and watercraft from 1937 to the present; a future fair highlighting innovations and sustainable technologies; performances of music and dance; official 75th anniversary merchandise
  • Ongoing anniversary-year events: Public programs throughout 2012 presented by Bay Area organizations.

Congratulations to the Golden Gate Bridge and to the organizers of the 75th anniversary! May the success of your anniversary “sell”-abration exceed your wildest dreams.

Blogger  Bio: Pauline Bartel, M.A., is President and Chief Creative Officer of
Bartel Communications, Inc., an award-winning corporate communications firm,
specializing in marketing, public relations and business anniversary consulting
services. The firm  created “The Bartel Years™” and “The Bartel Years 200™,” rosters of business  anniversary symbols to inspire two centuries of business anniversary
“sell”-abrations. Download free copies of “The Bartel Years™” and the special
report “The Top 10 Business Anniversary Ideas for SELL-abrating Your Business
Anniversary” at this link: