Golden Gate Bridge

Introduction

The Golden Gate Bridge is a bridge that sits between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. It is named so for being located at the strait known as the Golden Gate. Since its opening in 1937, the bridge has become one of the most recognized and globally known American structures. It once held the distinctions of being the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world.

History and Background

The Golden Gate has remained a vitally important strait and route for people in San Francisco. Since the early 19th century, a ferry service had been operating in the area to take people across the water route. This ferry service eventually became a part of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company. The ferry service took people as well as vehicles across the strait. However, a need for a more permanent solution was felt. This led to proposals of a bridge across the Golden Gate.

Planning

During the course of the 19th century, many proposals were put forward for a possible bridge across the Golden Gate. Most of these proposals were rejected by the experts who believed it was hard, if not impossible, to construct such a bridge. The experts also claimed that if such a bridge could be constructed, it would cost a hefty amount.

These criticisms notwithstanding, Joseph Strauss put forward the proposal of a suspension bridge which was more practical and cost less. Strauss was an engineer and poet with a significant experience in building bridges. His proposal attracted attention and soon he started rallying support for the project. Although many like the Department of War and the Southern Pacific Railroad opposed his efforts, he was ultimately successful in garnering enough support to start construction.

Design and Construction

Joseph Strauss was selected as the chief engineer for the project. Leon Moisseiff was another engineer who played a central role in the design and construction of the bridge. Another important figure involved with the project was Irving Morrow. Morrow was primarily responsible for the architecture, overall outlook and the aesthetic elements of the bridge.

After the preliminaries of design and the arrangement of finances, construction on the bridge began in 1933. It was completed and the bridge opened on May 27, 1937. The construction cost a total of $35 million at the time, which is equivalent of $514 million today.

Structure and Dimensions

Completed in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964. The bridge runs for the length of 1300 meters, or 4200 feet. It was also the tallest suspension bridge in the world until 1993 with its towers standing nearly 746 feet above the water and the bridge’s clearance at 220 feet above the water.

Attached to the two giant towers of the bridge are the suspender ropes which, in turn, are attached to two main cables. The overall outlook and finish of the bridge is in an orange vermilion color, a unique shad which makes the bridge stand out while complementing the surrounding landscape.

Learn more about the Golden Gate Bridge at Wikipedia

The Gate: The True Story of the Design and Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge Paperback – 20 Jun 2000

Building the Golden Gate Bridge: A Workers’ Oral History Paperback – 18 Aug 2015

Engineering the Golden Gate Bridge (Building by Design) Library Binding – 1 Sep 2017