The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark that serves as a global representative of the city of San Francisco. The bridge celebrated its 80th opening anniversary on May 27th.
While the world continues its attempts on building the highest and the longest bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge stands in all its glory, not needing any records of the sort. When the bridge first opened to the public on May 27, 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, but the real beauty of the architectural structure lies in its marvelous blend of engineering and art. The bridge has now come to be called the crown jewel of San Fransisco for which the journalist Willis O’Brien wrote, “A necklace of surpassing beauty was placed about the lovely throat of San Francisco yesterday.”
We will get you a brief view of the history of the Golden Gate Bridge through a collection of vintage photos.
The Golden Gate Bridge did not come to connect San Francisco and Marin County as easy as we might imagine. The proposal was opposed by many environmentalists who thought it to be obtrusive and by Ferry companies whose profits would significantly decline as the bridge would carry over 50,000 commuters a day to the city. The opposition did not stop the advocates from spreading the drawings, eventually getting a $35 million budget approved by the district voters.
The construction began in 1933 at the hands of President Franklin Roosevelt who pressed a button, setting off a charge of dynamite on July 9th. 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt was dug out to place 12 story tall towers. The workers had to dive to depths of 90 feet, blasting away the rock and removing the debris. Built with 1.2 million rivets, 80,000 miles of spliced wire, and 254 steel suspender ropes, the bridge spread over 4,200 feet, becoming the longest suspension bridge of the time.
Nothing great happens without a loss, and the Golden Gate Bridge did not either. In the four years of construction, the bridge took the lives of 11 of its workers. 10 of these deaths happened on the same day when a scaffold fell tearing through a safety net. Despite this, the bridge holds a remarkable safety record for that time. When it finally opened up on May 27, 1937, Joseph Strauss, the engineer behind the idea of the bridge wrote, “At last, the mighty task is done.”
Running over the San Francisco Bay, joining the city to Marin County, the Golden Gate Bridge gets 40 million vehicles across every year.
Getting from the Marin County to San Francisco costs $7.25 to cars, but the ride is free for pedestrians and bikers. The cost was 50 cents when it opened up in 1937.
Despite being known as a suicide magnet, the beauty of the architectural masterpiece is undeniable, as the late Californian historian Kevin Star puts it: “a global icon, a triumph of engineering, and a work of art.”