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Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge directions
The orange towers of the Golden Gate Bridge , perhaps the best-loved symbol of San Francisco, are visible from almost every high point in the city. The bridge, which spans 4200ft, had taken only 52 months to design and build when it was opened in 1937. Some quarter of a million people turned up for a sunrise party to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary in 1987; the winds were strong and the bridge buckled, but fortunately did not break. Driving across is a real thrill, racing under the towers, while the half-hour walk across allows you to take in its enormous size and absorb the views. It's also a favorite with the suicidal - in a typical year dozens jump to their deaths. Those jumping are said to hit the water at a speedy 80mph - few have survived the leap.

The Fort Point National Historic Site beneath the bridge gives a good sense of the place as the westernmost outpost of the nation. This brick fortress, built in the 1850s, has a dramatic site, the surf pounding away beneath the great span of the bridge high above - a view made famous by Kim Novak's suicide attempt in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertig . A small museum (Thurs-Mon 10am-5pm; free) inside the fort displays some rusty old cannons and artillery.

Inland, Lincoln Park , at 34th Avenue and Clement Street, primarily an unusually dramatic golf course, offers striking views of the Marin headlands and is home to the remote, white-pillared California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Re-opened in late 1995 after extensive renovation, the museum is arguably San Francisco's best and most staggeringly majestic building. Its isolated, windswept location, high on a bluff overlooking the ocean, is unsurpassably romantic, and deters the hordes that swarm the MoMA and the museums in the park.

The emphasis is on fine art, with the Renaissance represented by the works of Titian and El Greco, hung in spacious, high-ceilinged, well-lit marble halls. Some great canvases by Rembrandt and Hals, as well as Rubens' magnificent Tribute Money , are highlights of the seventeenth-century Dutch and Flemish collection. The Impressionist and Post-Impressionist galleries contain works by Courbet, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Degas and Cézanne. Several galleries are devoted to Rodin sculptures - bronze, porcelain and stone pieces including The Athlete, Fugit Amor and a small cast of The Kiss . A highlight of the museum, The Thinker , greets visitors in the museum's front courtyard.

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Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

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