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The Golden Gate Bridge: History and Fun Facts
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The Golden Gate Bridge: History and Fun Facts

Here are some fun facts and the history of the iconic San Francisco landmark: the Golden Gate Bridge.

Natasha Kouyoumjian

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4 min read

August 30, 2022

When one thinks of San Francisco, they often think of the Golden Gate Bridge, the world-renowned structure that features the city at its best. Stretching two miles across the Golden Gate strait, the Bridge extends itself to its northern neighbors where San Francisco Bay opens up to the Pacific Ocean. As of 1937, the Bridge has been an engineering wonder; a picturesque landmark representing a significant part of the city’s history, culture, and eccentricity. In spite of the bridge’s decades-long history, there are a few certain must-knows that tell a precious architectural tale.

The statue of Joseph B. Strauss in San Francisco with the backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge is a sight not to miss when visiting the Bay Area.

Who Was the Architect?

According to journalist James Wilkins, the cost of building a bridge across the Golden Gate strait would cost $100 million and raised the question of whether it could be done for less. Joseph Strauss, an engineer, responded with a proposal of a cantilever bridge that would cost $17 million, not knowing that he was inviting the biggest project of his lifetime. Inspiring local officials, the design was changed to a suspension bridge. Strauss happily collaborated with other designers to keep up with the magnitude and scope of such a humongous scheme. With Architect Irving Morrow designing the towers, lighting, and Art Deco details of the bridge, Strauss brought forth what is today known as the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the state’s historic landmarks

The Golden Gate Bridge is the perfect display of California’s creativity and determination.

Where Is the Golden Gate Bridge Located?

The Golden Gate Bridge has greeted visitors with a display of California’s creativity and determination for ages. Today, this beloved international icon serves not only as an important transportation link but also as a major travel destination and a top-ranking S.F. bucket list item for millions of visitors from around the world.

In accordance with its brilliant location, the Golden Gate Bridge is a golden landmark, spotted from many points of the city, offering the most exquisite views from San Francisco hikes. A hike with a picturesque backdrop of the San Francisco bridge is one trail you shouldn’t miss out on.

The Golden Bridge Gate achieved its name from the “Geographical Memoire” by the explorer John C. Fermont.

Why Is It Called the Golden Gate Bridge?

Planting his eyes on the marvel for the first time, soldier, explorer, and future presidential candidate John C. Fermont was instantly reminded of Constantinople's Golden Horn. He named it Chrysoplylae – meaning Golden Gate. Adding another layer in his “Geographical Memoire,” Fermont mentioned that the rugged opening to the Pacific is "a Golden Gate to trade with the Orient."

When Was the Golden Gate Bridge Built?

With all the logistics at hand, the construction of this massive project began being construction on the 5th of January, 1933. Hyped by the excitement of the bridge’s birth, a groundbreaking ceremony took place at Crissy Field on February 26th, 1933, lasting several hours and drawing in at least 100,000 people. The Golden Gate Bridge officially came to completion on the 27th of May, 1937, with a week-long opening ceremony.

Historical Facts of the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge of San Francisco, C.A. faced many challenges before its completion in 1935. Even with so many inconveniences at hand – including the Great Depression and earthquakes – the viaduct managed to end ahead of schedule and even under budget.

If you revisit the pages of Golden Gate Bridge history, you’ll be taken away by a few dark spots in its time. Built in the 1930s, safety measures escaped the dedicated construction workers of this majestic creation. Though suspending a safety net successfully saved the lives of 19 men, it also wasn’t sufficient for the remaining unlucky 11. Fortunately, the Board of Golden Gate Bridge Operations today employs an expert team of electricians, ironworkers, and painters to keep this San Francisco bridge fit and Instagram-ready!

The suspension bridge tower is a project of massive magnitudes brought to life.

How Tall Is the Golden Gate Bridge?

A project of unprecedented magnitudes of its time, the bridge is a suspension with two main towers, supporting two massive cables. Rising proudly above the waters, both towers are 746ft in height and weigh 44 thousand tonnes.

Painting The Bridge

Concerned with visibility in relation to San Francisco’s consistent fog, the U.S. Navy initially voted to have the Golden Gate Bridge painted in blue and yellow stripes. However, the steel first arrived in San Francisco smeared in a burnt red hue as a primer. Consulting the genius architect, Irving Morrow, they came to the conclusion that painting this suspension in international orange would make it highly visible and help blend better with its coastal surroundings. Protecting it from rust and corrosion caused by the high salt levels and elements present, painting the Bridge is a frequent maintenance priority. 

How Much Did It Cost?

The chief engineer and the masterminds behind this San Francisco bridge, Joseph Strauss, presented final plans to the scheme’s Board of Directors on August 27, 1930, which totaled more than $23 million. Almost within a two-year stretch, the plan was awarded approval, and construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began.

Celebrating the anniversary of the World’s Seven Wonders of Civil Engineering.

Fun Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge

Opening Day

If you want to go on a walking tour in San Francisco, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge would be a solid option. A day before May 27th, 1937 – the official opening date of the bridge – 200,000 pedestrians embarked on a walking tour and crossed the bridge by foot. 

The 50th Anniversary Incident

The most interesting of the Golden Gate Bridge facts is the incident that happened on its 50th anniversary.  The bridge opened to pedestrians and almost a million people gathered to celebrate the day by crossing the bridge. Some crossed it with bikes, others in centipede outfits. When the massive crowd gathered on the roadway, they caused the bridge's profile to flatten out and shift its normal convex shape!

Seven Wonders of Civil Engineering

An engineering marvel and an American icon, the Golden Gate Bridge ranked as one of the world's Seven Wonders of Civil Engineering in 1994. For the curious, that put it on par with the Panama Canal connecting the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans, as well as the Channel Tunnel that links the island of Great Britain to the European Mainlands.

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