Off the Bookshelf: The Bridge That Enhanced Nature

Short excerpts from long reads

golden gate full.jpg

"Triumphantly, the Golden Gate Bridge linked the urbanism of San Francisco with the unspoiled headlands of Marin as if to suggest the paradox of California/America itself: a gift of nature, a continent that F. Scott Fitzgerald described as the last place commensurate with the human capacity for wonder, a sacred text, a revelation of the Divine Mind, as far as the Anglo-American Protestant imagination was concerned -- yet a place as well to be reshaped into cities, with canals, roadways, railways, highways, aqueducts, bridges, and all those other entities required by urban civilization. Yet the Bridge did not destroy its site; rather, it enhanced it, as the Parthenon enhances the hill upon which it stands. The Golden Gate Bridge announced to the world something important about the American imagination and the American stewardship of the continent, taken at its best. For all their faults, Americans could reform themselves to exercise proper stewardship and would more and more do so, despite the squanderings of the nineteenth century.

"From an iconic perspective, the Golden Gate Bridge offers a West Coast counterpart to the Statue of Liberty, announcing, in terms of American Art Deco, American achievement and the higher purposes of American culture. And it does this with its own element of historical narrative, subtly contained in the Art Deco stylization of its towers played off against repetitive cables descending into a reversed arch against an interplay of city, sea, and sky." ~ from Golden Gate by Kevin Starr


Image credit: Reuters/Andy Kuno
Presented by

Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Entertainment

Just In