Of grand openings


If memory serves (which often it doesn’t) the new span of the Bay Bridge in San Francisco opened last week amid a decent degree of fanfare. About 10 years behind schedule and six times the original cost at $6.5 billion, it’s a something I like to point out to friends and relatives in Spain to show that civil works projects don’t really run on time or under budget anywhere in the world. Still, it would have been nice to to finally see the bridge and all its spanning action given that it’s been under construction the entire time I had lived in San Francisco.

As something that serves as much more than a runner up prize, I am getting to see the opening of the Mercat del Born and its new cultural center that has been in the works for about as long as the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The cost however has only been 84 million euros.

For the last year or so, I’ve lived across from this old 19th century market which has been closed for something like four decades and despite the many issues in what they’ve done, it is a tremendous revitalization of what was otherwise a dead neighborhood. The neighbors around me are failing to see this and are instead much more concerned about the loss of parking spaces instead of say, the increase of restaurant terraces which will in turn put more drunken, loud tourists in to the neighborhood. People have their priorities I suppose and don’t realize that the market itself is fantastic and that it’s just the streets around it that need to be fixed.

For the opening festivities, we get to see a grand re-enactment of daily life from the early 18th century. I’m sure there’s more to it, but this is what I’m hearing from my balcony as they go through rehearsals. They’ve also installed one of the thickest flagpoles the world has ever seen. I’ll gladly take all of this over getting to see the former mayor of San Francisco, open-shirted, cut a chain with a blowtorch on a bridge that is well, in the end just a bridge and not a living museum that’s a tribute to an entire neighborhood that was lost three centuries ago.