The Deeper Problem with “Willie L. Brown, Jr., Bridge”
This is a portion of an op-ed piece that John Lumea wrote yesterday. John is heading the Emperor’s Bridge Campaign, which is trying to name the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge after Emperor Norton. You can read the entire op-ed piece here.
Tomorrow morning on Treasure Island, the California NAACP together with assorted state and local elected officials will throw a party for former California Assembly speaker and San Francisco mayor Willie Brown. Their cause for celebration: the state Legislature’s recent naming of the Western section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge as “The Willie L. Brown, Jr., Bridge.”
Where the Bay Bridge itself is concerned…
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The deeper long-term historical problem with the Western section’s new name has less to do with the phrase “Willie L. Brown, Jr.,” than with the word “Bridge.”
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TO BE SURE, the Western section technically is a bridge — part of a two-bridge systempunctuated by Yerba Buena Tunnel.
But this system was conceived as a single “bridging” of the entire Bay — from Oakland to San Francisco.
The system was given one name: the “San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.”
Even the euphemisms “Western span” and “Eastern span” reflect the reality that this two-bridged system always has lived in the hearts of the people as one bridge: the Bay Bridge.
The National Park Service reinforced this in 2001, when it placed the Bay Bridge on the National Register of Historic Places. In doing so, the Park Service recognized the entire Bay-spanning landmark — from end to end — as a unit.
As the State and the people of California have been doing since the Bay Bridge opened in 1936.
photo from SF Gate