The Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public on this day, May 27, in 1937. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world, at 4,200 feet (1,300 m).
The roadway is suspended from two cables that pass through a tower at each end. There are 80,000 miles (130,000 km) of wire in the main cables, and 1.2 million steel rivets hold the bridge together.
Read more about GG Bridge here.
Before this magnificent bridge was built, residents took ferries across San Francisco Bay.
Extensive ferry services crossed the Bay in the 1800s and early 1900s. Once the bridge was built, they ceased to exist.
Back then passengers boarded at the Hyde Street Pier, and took the ferry to Sausalito on the north side, or Berkeley on the east side.
Original plans for the new bridge design spanning the Golden Gate Strait began in 1916. It would be 21 years of surveys, plans, sketches, and patents. Numerous architects, designers, and engineers were consulted. Legislation, politics, financial plans, and lawsuits were generated.
Strong tides and currents, ferocious winds, deep water, and blinding fog were all natural elements with which to contend. Many experts said a bridge could not be built.
In addition, the bridge had to be high enough above the water to allow clearance for large ships, important for trade and war vessels.
Construction began January of 1933. Joseph B. Strauss, chief engineer, had a large network of engineers and architects working on various aspects of the bridge.
3.25 million cubic feet of dirt was excavated. Huge barrels of cement and aggregates were brought in on barges, and mixing concrete occurred on-site.
Anchorages were built 12 stories high, and a long tube (called an “elephant trunk”) transported the mixed concrete down.
The two main towers were completed in June of 1935, then the cables were created, and “catwalks” for workers were erected.
In 1937 the bridge toll collected by toll-takers in booths was $.50 each way, and $.05 for every additional passenger.
Today it costs $7.25 per vehicle (with lower fares for car pools and others), and collection is 100% electronic.
After 79 years of service, the Golden Gate Bridge remains a major thoroughfare for residents, visitors, and commuters. It dazzles everyone who crosses, shows up in films and songs, and is a tourist destination for people from around the world.
Happy Birthday Golden Gate.
Photo credit: Athena Alexander (unless otherwise noted)