Hoppers Hands – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

San Francisco, California

Hoppers Hands

At the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, a small sign basically begs for a high-five. 

Walking, jogging, and even just driving down to take photos at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge is a much-loved activity for San Franciscans and visitors alike. And since the year 2000, a small sign with two big hands and two words—Hoppers Hands—has been one way to mark the end of the trail before turning back.

The wooden plaque is named for Ken Hopper, a retired ironworker who maintained the bridge fences, including the one at the adjacent, historic Fort Point. When working in the area, Hopper often saw runners tap or grab the chainlink fence before turning around. This led him to come up with what seemed like a simple but fun idea: to have the bridge sign-maker construct something a bit more welcoming and personal for all of those hands to reach out and touch.

About two years after the plaque was placed on the fence, Hopper’s name was added. And since then, the signboard has been replaced—and the design has changed—a few times as it gets pretty well worn by the salty, blustery wind and fog from the San Francisco Bay, as well as all of that human contact. As of 2018, the most recent version, a black sign with San Francisco Giants orange hands, is securely affixed to the fence about five feet off the ground.

There’s also a second sign near the ground with no words but two little paws, bolted to a stone barrier slightly to the right of the human hands. Even big, well-trained dogs will probably need a little help from humans getting their paws up to touch the dog-sized marker, but the two signs give every member of the family—even furry ones—something to reach for below the towering bridge.

Know Before You Go

You'll find the hands just east of Fort Point and the base of the Golden Gate Bridge, located along the northernmost stretch of the parking lot.

Community Discussion