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Sylvia Cranmer McLaughlin: Sylvia Saves the Bay

[ photo: Sylvia Cranmer McLaughlin ]

Sylvia Saves the Bay

Sylvia Cranmer McLaughlin '39 and two friends triple-handedly rescued San Francisco Bay from the clutches of real estate developers. It's unthinkable now, but in 1960, the powers that be in the city of Berkeley were actually considering filling in 70% of the bay to "build" land for real estate developers. After the Army Corps of Engineers gave the project a thumbs up, a local newspaper did a story on it. McLaughlin read the story and raised a ruckus. She "joined up with Catherine Kerr and Esther Gulick to do whatever they could to protect the bay. From that simple motivation, the Save San Francisco Bay Association was born."

According to VQ, Save the Bay is now "a landmark environmental association, and its early accomplishments are regarded as legendary. McLaughlin and the others are highly respected as heroes of the conservation movement, and for being among the first environmental activists in the nation." McLaughlin has been honored many times for her work on the bay and other environmental issues--and by her alma mater, with the Spirit of Vassar Award—but remains inspiringly humble. "A lot of people must be more worthy," she told VQ. "I'll try to live up to it."


VQ Summer 2004
Photo credit: VQ