San Francisco, California: Hoppers Hands - Runner Turning Point

Plaque with two hands that runners touch before turning back on their route, named after a bridge worker who has talked down many bridge suicide jumpers. There's also a pair of dog paws.

Fort Point National Historic Site

Address:
Marine Dr., San Francisco, CA
Directions:
Fort Point National Historic Site. Hamilton St. to Marine Dr., under the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Admission:
Free.
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Hoppers Hands - Runner Turning Point

In San Francisco, running is a very popular activity, and one of the more popular locations is a circuit where runners head west in and around Crissy Field, toward the Golden Gate Bridge, past the pier, down Marine Drive and finally to a dead end at Fort Point, at a chain link fence that was installed after 9/11. Here they turn around and complete their journey by retracing their steps.

At the dead end, attached to the chain-link fence, and directly under the Golden Gate Bridge, is a red plaque with a pair of hands, which the runners approach, proudly touch, before turning around to finish their run. It is affectionately called "The Turning Point."

What many do not know is the story behind the plaque. Above the hands are the words "Hoppers Hands," referring to Ken Hopper, one of the bridge construction workers in San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge is not only the #1 tourist attraction in San Francisco... it is also the world's #1 suicide destination, with over 1,200 suicides to date.

Many bridge workers took voluntary training in suicide rescue and are on duty to assist when calls are received (often in the middle of the night) regarding potential jumpers. Hopper has assisted with at least 30 potential suicide jumpers, and was able to persuade most of them off the bridge.

And this is why, under the Golden Gate Bridge, you will see Hopper's Hands, reminders that the Golden Gate Bridge is only a "turning point" and not a "dead end," with the hands on the plaque reaching out to all, a symbol of one man's willingness to reach out to those in need.

[Gina Taylor, 03/03/2011]

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