A Legend in Making: Knowing the History of Golden Gate Bridge

Medha Godbole Apr 17, 2019
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The history of the Golden Gate Bridge is as fascinating as it can get. In the article to follow there will be an attempt to capture some of the highlights of the legacy of this bridge.
One of the architectural wonders of the 20th century, the Golden Gate Bridge bridge has been one of the most popular attractions in San Francisco for tourists from all over the world. Given here are some general facts, historical events, and information regarding the Golden Gate Bridge.

Construction

Before this bridge was built, there was no practicable route connecting Marin County and San Francisco, except boating across the San Francisco Bay. In 1916, engineering student James Wilkins' article kick-started the idea of building the Golden Gate Bridge in a concrete manner.
The city engineer for San Francisco came up with a rough figure of around 100 million USD, an incredulous figure. Joseph Strauss, an ambitious engineer, then came in the picture. He claimed that the bridge could be built for 17 million USD.
After a lot of opposition, judicial petitions, and discussions, in 1923, things started taking shape for the approval of the construction in Santa Rosa, California. Santa Rosa Chamber took the responsibility of circulating the petitions for the bridge as a stimulus for its construction. The construction actually started on January 5, 1933.
Irving Morrow designed the shape of the bridge towers, the lighting scheme, street lights, railings, and walkways. Charles Alton Ellis was the principal engineer of the project, which is a portion of both U.S. Route 101 and California Route 1.
From Northern California, 6 counties pitched in for help and in 1928, a Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District was formed. A $35 million bond issue was appropriated for financing the construction of the bridge.
Some of the high points in the construction of the bridge are:
  • Marin Anchorage was built from January 1933 through February 1936.
  • The construction of the Marin Pier went on from January 1933 through June 1933.
  • San Francisco Pier was constructed between March 1934 through December 1934.
  • The suspension cables were laid from October 1935 through March 1936.
  • Roadway steel construction was done between June 1936 through November 1936.
  • The deck surface was laid from January 1937 through April 1937.
Finally, on May 27, 1937, this incredible project was completed. It was no mean feat to build a suspension bridge with a length of 2.7 km, with a width of 90 ft and a height of 746 feet. Huge celebrations - spanning a week - were conducted during its opening ceremony.
Some of the contractors for the construction of the bridge were:
  • For main piers - Pacific Bridge Company
  • Anchorages and approach piers - Barrett and Hilp
  • Structural steel for suspension span - Bethlehem Steel Company
  • Cables of the suspension span - John A. Roebling's Sons Company
  • Electrical work - Alta Electric & Mechanical Company
It was a long and winding journey for all those involved in the construction, and there were a number of landmarks which happened in the construction of this bridge

Some Interesting Facts

  • The San Francisco Chronicle referred to the bridge as a thirty-five million dollar steel harp!
  • 11 men lost their lives during the construction of the bridge.
  • When the bridge was opened, the toll was a sum of 50 cents per car each way.
  • The current weight of the bridge is 887,000 tons (804,700,000 kg)!
  • May 27, 1937 was a Pedestrian Day, and 200,000 people crossed the bridge on foot or skates.
  • There are around 1.2 million total rivets involved in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • An interesting and popular fact about the bridge is that the Navy wished to paint the bridge black with yellow stripes, to ensure that ships could spot it.
Currently, around 110,000 vehicles pass through the bridge per day! But this apart, there are a number of issues plaguing this legendary bridge. There are economic issues, as well as the issue of suicides. Unfortunately, the Bridge is a popular spot for suicides. Additionally, seismic retrofit for resisting earthquakes is a maintenance aspect in progress.
So these were some of the interesting facts about the Golden Gate bridge. Today, the bridge is an important feature not just for San Fransisco, but also for the whole of United States.