SAN FRANCISCO -- "The Golden Gate Bridge--nine thousand feet long, seven hundred and fifty feet tall, weighing 887,000 tons and coated in millions of gallons of International Orange paint--links the urbanity of San Francisco with the wild headlands of Marin County, as if to suggest the paradox of California and America itself," wrote California State Librarian Emeritus Kevin Starr in his new book "Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge."

Starr was one of four panelists at The Commonwealth Club's tribute to the famous bridge, "The Golden Gate at 75: What Makes an Icon," on Thursday night. In his book, Starr called the bridge the most beautiful manmade structure on earth. And while some Egyptians might pose an argument, here at HuffPost SF, we couldn't agree more.

(SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTO CONTEST)

On Sunday, the Golden Gate Bridge celebrates its 75th anniversary with a party fit for an icon, including a fair and festival, dancing and music, a historic watercraft parade and a nighttime firework spectacular. On each of the bridge's spires, UC Berkeley space scientists have even installed solar "birthday candles"-–mirror-coated heliostats designed to flicker in the sun.

The most recognizable bridge in the world, the Golden Gate remains a bit of an engineering marvel. The longest bridge before its construction was 700 feet shorter, and gapping the 1.7-mile stretch of Pacific was called an impossibility at the time of its conception. The Sierra Club (and reportedly The Commonwealth Club!) opposed the construction for environmental concerns, the military worried about exposing the city and old-time San Franciscans were against it because "they opposed anything that wasn't there already," joked Starr.

But nevertheless, the project was approved by popular vote, and construction began in 1933.

The span was completed in less than five years--ahead of schedule and under budget--without the use of computers or calculators. This fun fact serves as an especially sore reminder to a certain bridge on the other side of the city, whose current single span construction is nearly six years behind schedule and $5 billion over budget.

But Starr urged critics to take the Bay Bridge estimates in stride. "Eleven men died building the Golden Gate Bridge," he said. "Now there are safety and environmental concerns that we legitimately insist on that did not exist in 1937."

Of course, the Golden Gate is not without its flaws.

The astronomical cost of maintenance forces a continuous rise in tolls. At the 50th anniversary in 1987, bridge workers held their breath as the suspension stretched nearly to its limits to hold 300,000 pedestrians just one year after the roadway was reinforced. ("It's impossible to play 'ifs'," said Starr at the Commonwealth Club. "But lets put it this way: it's fortunate that that improvement happened before the anniversary event occurred.")

And most pointedly, the bridge has been the site of approximately 1,600 suicides--second only to Japan's Mount Mihara, an active volcano nicknamed "Suicide Point."

In 2008, the Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors voted 14-1 to erect a safety net beneath the bridge. A similar net spared 19 lives during the bridge's construction: "the members of the halfway to hell club," noted Starr. Funding has stalled the new net's construction.

"You remember in Physics class--for every action there is an opposite and equal reaction," said Starr. "All of that beauty, that grace and magnificence. I think it can speak to someone differently, and act as a fatal attraction."

In his closing statement, fellow panelist American Society of Civil Engineers Chairman Paul Giroux remarked on the meaning and significance of the bridge.

"An icon represents something different to each of us," he said. "It gives us hope because it speaks to us as individuals; it speaks to our hopes and dreams for the future."

Love the bridge just as much? Submit your favorite photos of the iconic structure below for a chance to win a signed poster by legendary local art director Rich Silverstein.

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  • View from the Walk

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Traci_Brodnax"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/22603236/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Traci_Brodnax">Traci Brodnax</a>:<br />Snapped this photo during my first walk ever across the Golden Gate Bridge in February 2009.

  • The Mighty Golden

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jennifer_Frimml"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/3200100.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jennifer_Frimml">Jennifer Frimml</a>:<br />Where ocean meets the bay.

  • Golden Gate Bridge from the deck of the Star Princess cruise ship

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/AgentAkit"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/3200115.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/AgentAkit">AgentAkit</a>:<br />Taken in April 2009 on a round-trip cruise to Mexico from San Francisco.

  • From Cavallo Point

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Andrea_Scallon"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/3200127.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Andrea_Scallon">Andrea Scallon</a>:<br />

  • An alternative view of the bridge...

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Rambosf"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Rambosf">Rambosf</a>:<br />This was taken today (May 7, 2012) at Baker/Marshall Beach.

  • This is Home

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/laurelxxi"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/laurelxxi">laurelxxi</a>:<br />Nothing's better than a clear sky and going over the Golden Gate Bridge!

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Genia_Roper"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/169000074/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Genia_Roper">Genia Roper</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Leandro_Pimenta"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Leandro_Pimenta">Leandro Pimenta</a>:<br />

  • Bird Staring at Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/anacaren08"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/anacaren08">anacaren08</a>:<br />This bird seems to enjoy the view of the Golden Gate Bridge too.

  • Clearing storm over the Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/shakedown1970"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/425071-tiny.png?20091001211236" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/shakedown1970">shakedown1970</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate Bridge from on the Bay

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/shakedown1970"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://i.huffpost.com/profiles/425071-tiny.png?20091001211236" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/shakedown1970">shakedown1970</a>:<br />Golden Gate Bridge from on the Bay

  • Golden Gate Bridge from Horseshoe Bay Sausalito.

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1485310226/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares">Greg Linhares</a>:<br />Saturday, May 5, 2012.

  • Sun Gate - From Grizzly Peak Oakland Hills

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1485310226/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares">Greg Linhares</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate Sunset from Grizzly Peak

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1485310226/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Greg_Linhares">Greg Linhares</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Blasphemous_Girl"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Blasphemous_Girl">Blasphemous Girl</a>:<br />I took this while on a cruise around the Bay

  • Nicolas Ewing at GoldenGate Bridge, 1st visit!

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/lilliewinghere"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/lilliewinghere">lilliewinghere</a>:<br />Nic and The Golden Gate Bridge, A Majestic combination!

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mrbblack"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/588578598/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/mrbblack">mrbblack</a>:<br />Structure

  • Surfing Fort Point

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/newmanfilm"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/6704711/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/newmanfilm">newmanfilm</a>:<br />Surfers enjoying the waves at Fort Point

  • Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/whube"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/whube">whube</a>:<br />Golden Gate

  • Across the Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Melissa_Lake"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/2492525.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Melissa_Lake">Melissa Lake</a>:<br />This picture was taken through the windshield of my car as we drove across the Golden Gate Bridge.

  • Golden Gate Bridge - South Tower

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jack_Kulp"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jack_Kulp">Jack Kulp</a>:<br />I got the chance to go to the very top of the GG Bridge about thirty years ago. And, yes. That's my foot

  • IPAD Pict

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jaime_Echeverri"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/677114342/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Jaime_Echeverri">Jaime Echeverri</a>:<br />

  • Nikki at GGB

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ckim"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ckim">ckim</a>:<br />Nikki at GGB

  • Golden Landmark

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />A light fog rolls in through the city on a beautiful February evening in 2012.

  • GGB

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Hector_Machuca"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/1391294170/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Hector_Machuca">Hector Machuca</a>:<br />

  • Bad Moon Rising

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />On May 5th 2012 the Moon rised up over the City of San Francisco and lit up the sky and waters beautifully. The Super Moon they called it was truly remarkable.

  • Golden Trails

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />A look at the famous Golden Gate Bridge at night with the light trails from the vehicles traveling north & south bound. The light combined with the candy apple red bridge sparked Golden as ever.

  • Underneath the Cobalt Sky

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />This was taken during the "Blue Hour" and it provided a cobalt blue sky which contrasted nicely with The Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay.

  • Up to the sky

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jacivico"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/twitter_profile_img/3206576.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/jacivico">jacivico</a>:<br />Cellphone photography + fisheye toy lens

  • Golden Gate Silhouette

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Randall_Paetzold"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/3206508.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Randall_Paetzold">Randall Paetzold</a>:<br />While driving home from an all-day family outing in Tomales Bay. Only moments later after merging on to the 80 south and cleared the trees from Cesar Chaves Park; we saw this (see photo). I broke out my Nikon 5000, slapped on my Nikkor 70-300mm lens, calmed my breathing, focused and shot. All the while, sitting as one of the seven backseat passengers in our VW van zipping through traffic. You'd never know by the shot. Ha! R!

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Dutt561"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/yahoo_profile_img/3206938.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Dutt561">Dutt561</a>:<br />The Golden Gate Bridge, with the Golden Gate National Recreational Area in the background

  • Under the Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Agata_Kaczmarska"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/693449965/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Agata_Kaczmarska">Agata Kaczmarska</a>:<br />

  • Come Away With Me...to the moon

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/bpope8">bpope8</a>:<br />The Super Moon with it's orange color shined bright over The City and through the iron rods of the Golden Gate Bridge on May 5th 2012.

  • It's a nice view if you can get it...

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/offsite2000"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/offsite2000">offsite2000</a>:<br />View from Angel Island Ferry

  • the power of movement and angle

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/paulasilver"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/paulasilver">paulasilver</a>:<br />i snapped this out of the car window over winter break with my family. i really love the fluidity of it.

  • The Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/"></a>:<br />

  • Surfing the Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rjjacks"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rjjacks">rjjacks</a>:<br />Surfing the Golden Gate

  • A foggy day at the Golden Gate

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rjjacks"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rjjacks">rjjacks</a>:<br />A foggy day at the Golden Gate

  • Golden Gate Bridge

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stidf"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/stidf">stidf</a>:<br />

  • Golden Gate Tower

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/1dark1"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/1dark1">1dark1</a>:<br />