The entire Bay Area population was only 50,000 in 1849, during the height of the Gold Rush. By 1920, the Bay Area had 1.3 million people. In 1910 there were about 40,000 automobiles sputtering around, but only 10 years later there were over 600,000 moving at a much faster pace. The local newspapers and groups of business leaders were engaged in a long debate about building bridges over the water, which heated up by 1915. There were many proposals, but the greatest need and potential return lay in routes leading from San Francisco north to Marin County and also eastward to Oakland.