San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge
Even if you've never visited the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco in person, you've probably heard about this iconic landmark that spans the Golden Gate, a strait that connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean in northern California. This suspension bridge is an impressive structure that was built between 1933 and 1937. Bright orange in color and more than 700 feet high, the Golden Gate Bridge is a must-see for anyone visiting San Francisco.
The Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles long, and the two towers of the suspension bridge are 746 feet high and 4,200 feet apart. It cost $35 million to build. The bridge is a bright orange color called International Orange, which was chosen because people thought it looked nice with the natural surroundings. The bright orange color is also helpful because it makes the bridge easier for ships to see in the fog: it tends to get really foggy there! Some people think the bridge's name refers to its color, but the name "Golden Gate Bridge" came from the body of water the bridge spans. The Golden Gate Bridge contains 80,000 miles of steel wire: If you stretched this wire around Earth's equator, it would go around three times!
Planning and preparation for the Golden Gate Bridge started decades before construction began. Before the Golden Gate Bridge was built, people had to take a ferry to get between San Francisco and Marin County. Because the population of San Francisco was growing quickly, officials decided that a bridge was needed to connect these two points. Proposals were prepared, but many thought building the bridge was impossible because of the foggy weather and the currents in the water. The chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge project was Joseph Strauss. Strauss was very concerned about the safety of his construction crew, but 11 men were killed during the bridge's construction; however, losing only 11 men was below the expected number of worker casualties for a project this big. Strauss had a safety net installed under the construction zone to catch workers if they fell, and 19 workers were saved by this net. But near the end of the project, a heavy platform fell into the net, which wasn't strong enough to hold it. This accident resulted in the deaths of ten workers.
Building the towers of the bridge was the first step in building the bridge, and this involved working under the water to create the tower supports. Workers built enclosed areas in the places where the towers would be built, and they pumped out the water so they could fill in the spaces with concrete. The steel parts of the towers were then erected, climbing high into the sky. After finishing the towers, the next step was the cabling work. Cables had to be connected to the tops of the towers, connecting them both, and anchored to the ground on either side. Then, the roadways were built, starting at the towers and working outward, with each section being connected to the main cables by smaller cables, until the final pieces were placed in the middle of the span.
When the Golden Gate Bridge was opened on May 28, 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Currently, the Golden Gate Bridge is the second-longest suspension bridge in the United States, just behind the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York. It may not top the list of longest bridges anymore, but engineers still consider the design and construction of the Golden Gate Bridge to be a huge achievement. In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers decided to declare that the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the Seven Wonders of the United States.
Officials estimate that 118,000 vehicles travel over the Golden Gate Bridge daily, and as many as 10 million people visit it each year. You can walk, bike, or drive across the bridge, and you'll find a welcome center on the south end where you can learn more about the history of the bridge. Walking tours are available at different times of the week.
Visit these websites to learn more about San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge:
- Golden Gate Bridge Facts
- All About the Golden Gate Bridge
- Cool Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge
- Key Facts and Information About the Golden Gate Bridge
- Golden Gate Bridge Facts
- 20 Awesome Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge
- Golden Gate Bridge Fact Sheet
- Ten Secrets of the Golden Gate Bridge
- Experiencing the Golden Gate Bridge
- Plan Your Visit: Golden Gate Bridge
- Color and Styling of the Golden Gate Bridge
- Oh, the Places You'll Go: The Golden Gate
- Golden Gate Bridge
- The Birth of the Golden Gate Bridge
- San Francisco Bridges: Building the Golden Gate Bridge, 1933-37
- About the Golden Gate Bridge