Maria Ayerdi gave this speech on August 12th 2018 and during the ceremony for the opening of the Transbay Transit Center, now called Salesforce Transit Center. Here’ the text of her presentation:
Maria Ayerdi’s Transbay Transit Center Grand Opening Speech
Thank You Mayor Brown. Ladies and gentlemen. Leader Pelosi. Mayor Breed. Distinguished guests.
Good morning everyone! It is a pleasure to be here at the inauguration of the Salesforce Transit Center.
For nearly 20 years, I’ve been visualizing what the new Center would look like. Feeling it. Thinking about it. Having a lot of sleepless nights.
But I never experienced the joy that I feel today – that’s finally seen it in its full grandeur! It’s really a wonderful feeling and I’m very happy about it.
It’s also very humbling to have been a part of creating such a timeless landmark. And I’m honored to have worked alongside the thousands of men and women both in the public and private sectors across the entire United States, who contributed to this historic achievement.
Envision the millions of visitors who will pass through the NewsCenter, many will be young people with hopes and dreams. It’s these young people that I think about today and as I think about them I reflect on the little girl that I was when I came to this country as an immigrant.
Immigrants can achieve great things when given the opportunity. Mayor Willie Brown gave me that opportunity when I was entrusted to leave this project in 1998 and for that I will be eternally grateful.
I hope my contribution to the center will inspire young people to learn about the math and science behind the gleaming Penroze. To appreciate art and nature to marvel at the engineering and technology behind the structure and to want to make the world a better place and leave a lasting positive mark.
Most of all I hope these young people will learn what it takes to make their dreams come true to have faith in yourself to have faith in your vision. To have curiosity, passion, uncompromising integrity, decisive leadership, and above all: to have courage.
Speaking of leadership, I want to recognize and thank the people who have worked with me over the many years to make this dream a reality. Speaker Leader Pelosi was our angel investor: she was the person who believed from the very beginning that this project was worthwhile and that it was worth pursuing. She gave us the first seed funding of close to ten million dollars to get it off the ground.
And remember the surprise that had been studied and debated since at least 1967? It wasn’t until Mayor Willie Brown and leader Pelosi that we were able to get that first seed money to start the studies.
Then of course there was Senator Feinstein and Senator Boxer, who were all by my side, as well throughout all those years.
Senator Burton deserves special thanks and recognition because he made this project possible by working to convince Caltrans to transfer the 19 acres of land that built this project and the surrounding neighborhood which of course now includes also the iconic Salesforce tower. We can all be grateful that he also helped us secure, with the help of Leader Pelosi, Senators Feinstein and Boxer, the $400 million to build the rail levels which will fulfill the mandate of the public to bring commuter and high-speed rail into the Salesforce Transit Center.
I want to acknowledge all of them.
There’s too many people to thank, but I thank all of you for all of your support.
In closing, when you visit the new center, give yourself some time to experience all it has to offer.
Reflect on the words circling the beautiful light column that’s in front of me. Walk through the terrazzo floor. Can you identify the cultures represented by the patterns found in the floor? Can you find the hidden key? Make your way to the rooftop park. Breathe in the lush plants that come from all over the world. Have fun observing the whimsical water fountain as it announces the arrival of the buses below. Stroll along the park’s pathway. Relax in the amphitheater. The possibilities are simply endless.
The dawn of a new transportation era has arrived, embracing, treasure our new jewel in the city. Protect it for the next generation and most importantly make it something special and memorable to you.
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