The year was 1969 and the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge—locally known as the Coronado Bridge—opened to connect downtown San Diego and Coronado. The news was big and the San Diego newspapers were full of stories about the steel superstructure, made in the Bay Area; aerial photos of the pilings going into the water; letters from residents arguing over what to call it; and the death of a 23-year-old man who fell off a crane bucket while working on the bridge deck.
The bridge’s architect, Robert Mosher of La Jolla, had originally opposed the project but when he realized it was going to happen he offered to make it as beautiful as possible. A key challenge was making it high enough for the Navy’s aircraft carriers, which needed 200 feet of clearance. Mosher’s solution was to add a curve, which made the bridge’s incline more gradual and allowed the empty carrier ships to pass beneath.
When the bridge opened, traffic increased exponentially, far beyond what anyone had predicted. The speed dip at 3rd Street and C Avenue quickly became a repository for hubcaps, bumpers, license plates and other car parts as drivers accelerated over the bridge.
But the bridge also gave Coronado a greater connection to the world. Sisters Betty Reynolds and Sarah Durand recalled how the bridge brought new jobs to Coronado, and businessmen from San Diego began moving here to take advantage of easy commuting. The Coronado Shores and the Hotel del Coronado opened, and Richard Nixon held the first State Dinner outside of the White House at the hotel.