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Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
The Golden Gate Bridge history
Something unknown to many is that the name, “Golden Gate”, actually refers to the opening to the San Francisco Bay and not the bridge itself. The strait became known as the Golden Gate during the Californian gold rush in the mid 19th century.
The gold rush meant that hundred thousands of people came to San Francisco in pursuit of riches. Many came by boat and thus passed by the strait when entering San Francisco.
Before the bridge was built, the only route between San Francisco and Marin County to the north was by boat across the bay. The first ferry service began already in the early 19th century. The planning for a bridge over the strait began 100 years later, under the main architect Joseph Strauss. The construction finally began on January 5th, 1933.
A wonder of its time
As one probably can imagine, constructing a bridge like this was no easy task. At the time, many even believed it was technically impossible to span the Golden Gate. Despite the disbelief and even defying the Great Depression, Joseph Strauss was able to find sufficient support and financial backing to go ahead with the project. The project was successful and the bridge stood completed in 1937.
Saved by the net
The price tag for the bridge landed at more than 30 million dollars; a hefty price at the time. The bridge did not only come with a monetary cost, but also in terms of human lives as the construction process was dangerous.
Even though an innovative safety net had been installed, 11 men were killed from falls during the construction. 19 more men fell, but were saved by the net. They became proud members of the informal “Halfway to Hell Club”.
During the open ceremony, more than 200,000 people crossed the bridge by foot, as vehicle traffic was not allowed the first days.
While Joseph Strauss was the main architect, the majority of the design was handed over to Irving Morrow, a relatively unknown residential architect. He designed the overall shape of the bridge towers, the lighting scheme and Art Deco elements such as the streetlights, railing and walkways.
The general belief is that the bridge is red, but this is not totally accurate. The color of the bridge is actually an orange with a reddish hue, known as “international orange”. Rumors say that the color was originally only to be used as a sealant for the bridge, but Morrow chose to leave it orange instead of painting it the standard gray.
The orange did not only compliment its surroundings well, but it also enhanced the bridge's visibility in fog. Today, the striking color has become one of the most prominent features of the bridge and it has definitely contributed to its popularity.
Why visit the Golden Gate Bridge ?
The magnificent Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s signature sight. Not only is it the symbol for San Francisco; the Golden Gate Bridge is a symbol for California and the whole United States.
The Golden Gate Bridge is absolutely massive. Its total length is 2737 meters, making the it one of the largest suspension bridges in world. The two massive tower stand almost 250 meters tall, of which 20 meters are below water.
The two massive cables one can see supporting the bridge have a diameter of 90 centimeters. They are woven from more than 27,000 threads of steel, with a total length that equals three times the earth's circumference. The bridge is kept in one piece with the help of more than 1.2 million rivets; mind-blowing figures to say the least!
A popular bridge
Today, the bridge is crossed by an average of more than 100.000 cars per day and thousands of pedestrians. It can actually be quite a challenge to cross the bridge. Not only is it almost 3km long, but it also often quite windy. In extreme circumstances the bridge can sway several meters. However, visitors to the Golden Gate Bridge should definitely cross it if they can as the views are amazing.
A sad record
Visitors crossing the bridge will likely see several emergency phones along the way. Sadly, the bridge is not only known for its spectacular looks. The bridge is also one of the most popular places in the whole world to commit suicide.
When the bridge was completed in 1937 it was the world's longest and tallest suspension bridge. Even though it has long lost its records, it is still one of the world's most famous structures. In 1999, it was ranked fifth on the List of America's Favorite Architecture.
It is one of the most recognized landmarks of the United States and highly regarded as the most popular and photographed bridge ever built. It is even ranked by some as one of the wonders of the world.
Today, the bridge is visited by millions of people each year. Just like the Golden Gate greeted the visitors of the past, the bridge of today provides a wonderful welcome to San Francisco visitors.
Golden Gate Bridge location
The Golden Gate Bridge is located in western United States, in San Francisco, California. The bridge spans the Golden Gate, the opening of San Francisco Bay into the Pacific Ocean. The Golden Gate Bridge connects the city of San Francisco on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County.
For the exact location of the Golden Gate Bridge, check out the location map to the right!
Golden Gate Bridge resources
The Golden Gate Bridge. © WSG.
Interactive location map. For a larger and more detailed map, check out our US map.
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