search   index   by subject   by year   biographies   books  SF Activities  shop museum   contact

Completing the Great Highway, 1929

With the Great Highway and Ocean Beach Esplanade, costing more than $1,000,000, and financed from the $9,380,000 highway bond issue voted by the people, completed, San Francisco today stands to show visitors from all over the world the finest stretch of highway ever constructed.

Completion of the highway was climaxed Sunday, June 9, by a monster celebration. More than 50,000 people massed at the end of Lincoln Way. Music from a band of 1014 musicians filled the air in joyous riot, while thousands of autoists tooted horns to add to the noise of the occasion.

The opening up of the Great Highway marked inauguration of the last link of the Esplanade and the connecting up of the widest stretch of pavement in the United States with Sloat Boulevard, Skyline Boulevard and other heavy traffic arteries.

Mayor Dedicates Highway

The huge roadway was formally dedicated by Mayor James Rolph Jr. He saw in the completion of the great project, he said, only the beginning of a vast program of magnificent municipal improvements for this city. In an address the Mayor predicted a city with its street cars in a great underground boulevard under Market Street, a city connected by enormous bridges with Marin County and the East Bay and with vast sheets of traffic arteries belting all the confines of the city and county.

In closing his address the Mayor paid glowing tributes to the genius and foresight of City Engineer M.M. O'Shaughnessy and Park Superintendent John McLaren in bringing to fruition one of the most magnificent municipal projects in the United States.

Supervisor Andrew J. Gallagher, chairman of the city's streets committee, presided at the dedication exercises which included a program marked by a marathon race, swimming contests at Fleishhacker Pool, a parade down the Great Highway, in which transportation eras was portrayed. Thousands of motorists, bandsmen and Boy Scouts participated.

The massed band of 1014 musicians, representing many of the city's municipal organizations, played under the direction of Supervisor Alfred Roncovieri.

Following an address by City Engineer M.M. O'Shaughnessy in which he gave an interesting recital of the manner in which the work on the Great Highway and the Esplanade were carried on, Bert B. Meek, chief of the State Department of Public Works, pointed out the work the state is doing to help knit the people of all the counties together by better highways. The venerable John McLaren, superintendent of Golden Gate Park, accepted the great project for his department.

Miss Lucy Young, beautiful 15-year-old daughter of Governor C.C. Young, cut the ribbon that stretched across the highway for the parade to pass over it. The ribbon-cutting was witnessed by Mayor Rolph, Supervisors Gallagher, Suhr and Roncovieri, Superintendent McLaren, President Timothy A. Reardon of the Board of Public Works, and Bert B. Meek. Little Rita du Fossee of the Sunset District held the ribbon.

Highway Features

Outstanding features of the Great Highway include:

A stretch of pavement fronting Golden Gate Park, the widest stretch of pavement for a distance of appoximately 3000 feet anywhere in the United States.

A wonderfully constructed Esplanade of enduring concrete which will render for all time the beach safe from the destructive effects of the ocean's activities.

Two roads that stretch like ribbons for a distance of two miles from Lincoln Way to Sloat Boulevard, fifty feet in width, of the highest type of construction, flanked on both sides by ornamental grass plots and seasonal flowers.

An ornamental system of electroliers of the latest modern type, so placed that the maximum of efficiency of lighting effects are obtained.

Traffic signals have been installed so that on peak days the traffic may be handled with safety and efficiency.

Underpasses at Fulton Street, Judah Street, Taraval Street and Sloat Boulevard, were designed and constructed to take care of the thousands of people who visited the beaches, and who, thereby, are not forced to cross the highway.

The esthetic side of the picture was taken care of by Superintendent McLaren of Golden Gate Park and shows the genius of this man. He has combined the beautiful effects of grass-covered slopes with ornamental shrubs and flowers.

Equestrian Ramp

The equestrian ramp is a new departure in highway construction. It enables horsemen to ride down the face of the Esplanade to the ocean, and serves as a protection against high tides during the storm periods. The ramp was built directly on the face of the Esplanade and is reached from the main highway. Mayor Rolph pointed out that in no other place in the world has such construction been carried out.

The Market Street Railway Company has constructed to the rear of the Beach Chalet a station where passengers may alight and walk directly though the underpass to the beach.

City Engineer M.M. O'Shaughnessy and his assistant, Clyde E. Healy, prepared the plans for the Great Highway and Ocean Beach Esplanade, which were approved by the Supervisors' streets committee, composed of Supervisors Andrew J. Gallagher, Fred Suhr and Alfred Roncovieri.

The Municipal Employee
June 1929

Return to top of page.