Happy Birthday Golden Gate


Golden Gate Bridge, with Ft. Point below, far left

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.

Golden Gate Strait before the bridge, c. 1891. Ft. Point in foreground. Courtesy Wikipedia

Read more about GG Bridge here.


Bay City Ferry, late 1800s, SF Bay. Courtesy Wikipedia.

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.


Hyde Street Pier

Hyde Street Pier in May 2016

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.





Hyde St. Pier, c. 1930s. Courtesy Wikipedia


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.


Courtesy Wikipedia.

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.



1936, the two main ends of the bridge are joined. Courtesy Wikipedia.

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.


Opening day on Golden Gate Bridge, pedestrian, 1937. Courtesy Wikipedia.

The two main towers were completed  in June of 1935, then the cables were created, and “catwalks” for workers were erected.


Read more chronology of the bridge building here.  About the men who built the bridge here.



In 1937 the bridge toll collected by toll-takers in booths was $.50 each way, and $.05 for every additional passenger.


GG Bridge

GG Bridge

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.

Tourists in the rain photographing Golden Gate Bridge

Tourists in the rain photographing Golden Gate Bridge


Happy Birthday Golden Gate.


Photo credit:  Athena Alexander (unless otherwise noted)




66 thoughts on “Happy Birthday Golden Gate

  1. Thank you for this fine series of images and text.
    I’ve only been to Minneapolis and Saint Paul in USA.
    Naturally, I went boating on the Mississippi River. 🙂
    Have a great wekend.

    • I am delighted and honored that you enjoyed the Golden Gate Bridge post today, RC. I am glad when you were in Minnesota that you went boating on the Mississippi River, it is such a magnificent river. Thanks so much, always, for your frequent visits and today’s comment. I really enjoy your blog a lot.

  2. Dear Jet, thank you for this interesting story. I was just the other day wondering how old the GG bridge was. The Builders Bookstore in Berkeley used to sell the plan for the bridge which made for a great gift. It graces many walls in my relatives and friends homes.
    I can’t find it anymore alas as I forgot to keep one for myself!
    Thank you for another great story over breakfast.

    • Yest. I crossed the GG Bridge and today I spent in your neck of the woods, so lovely. So my breakfast was highlighted by you two, and your breakfast, vice versa. I love it that BB sold the bridge plans. And I have always loved it that the GG Bridge envelopes Bay Area residents in unique ways, like this one that you just shared. Thanks so very much, Ria — a true pleasure to exchange visits with you today. Have a happy holiday!

    • I really appreciate your frequent visits and comments, Cindy, especially when you’re touring the world. Best wishes for a terrific weekend and continued journey.

    • It’s a great joy to bring back your memories of the GGB, Sharon, and to share this lovely bridge story. Thanks so much, always, for your visits and comments.

  3. Jet I find the forward thinking and ingenuity of the designers amazing. To build a bridge in the 1930s that would meet today’s traffic needs seems quite remarkable to me. I wonder if the increase in till charge is consistent with inflation. It sounds like a lot but my guess is that it is similar to other products and services.
    Next time we are in San Fran we want to cycle across this beauty.

    • I can definitely see you and Dave cycling across the GGB, Sue. It’s usually super windy and there’s often a sidewalk open just for bicyclists. Many cyclists commute over the GGB on their bicycles. I have walked across it a few times, and it is really fun and exhilarating. It’s also fun to boat underneath it. And I agree with you, the advanced ingenuity of the designers is remarkable. It was a magnificent engineering feat. The bridge toll these days is only collected for southbound traffic, but yes, $7.25 is steep, but for drivers with electronic devices or car poolers it is less. Thanks so very much my friend!

  4. I think if I ever actually visited the bridge, I would be very aware of all the lives lost from its heights. Its Beautiful, but the fog that surrounds it always makes me think of the sorrow that will always be joined to it.

  5. What a magnificent engineering undertaking! Thank you, Jet for sharing the historical information and facts. So looking forward to driving through the bridge again. Happy Birthday, Golden Gate!! 🙂

  6. Hi Jet. Interestingly (maybe) they built a suspension bridge very close to where I used to live, over the Humber estuary (near Kingston upon Hull). At the time of opening (to traffic on 24th June 1981) it was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world with a single span of 2,220-metres. Apparently it’s now the seventh longest.
    Before it opened, they organised a running race across and back, which I entered and ran. I remember it well as I forgot my running shoes and had to run in some Clarks ‘Movers’. Very comfortable they were! 🙂

    • I find suspension bridges fascinating, too, Mike. It moves in earthquakes, and has withstood many. I enjoyed hearing about the suspension bridge over the Humber estuary, and really liked hearing about the race you ran in Clarks “Movers.” Thanks so much for your contributing comment today. My best to you~~

    • Your comment made me smile Nan, as I work feverishly on editing the manuscript of Golden Gate Graveyard. Many thanks for your clever connection and comment today~~ ♥

  7. Wow… fabulous post, Jet. I was California dreamin’ for about 20 years, but finally resigned myself to the fact that I’d never have enough money to put a roof over my head in San Francisco. But I still like to look at the city and the bridge. Huge hugs.

    • I, too, will never tire of looking at San Francisco and its many bridges, but especially the Golden Gate. It was a beautiful warm day at the San Francisco Bay today, I’m so glad you could vicariously join me. Really appreciate your warm comment, Teagan — and have a lovely weekend.

  8. A great landmark… interesting information, Jet. I’m sure the Golden Gate bridge has been an important feature of San Francisco! Thanks for sharing. Have a lovely weekend! 🙂

    • People have so many stories about the GG Bridge, Iris, you’re right. I was at a friend’s last week, in fact, and she was lamenting the fact that her house painter mistakenly painted the mailbox and it was the paint that is the same color as the GG Bridge, International Orange. He wasn’t supposed to paint over it, apparently (she had inherited the mailbox). Other people have stories about their grandfather taking them to the top, or being on it for the 50th anniversary when it got overloaded with people. Endless stories. Thanks so much for taking the time to enjoy the post, Iris. I always appreciate your visits and comments.

  9. It is a wonderful bridge! We have fond recent memories of seeing it from the “other” side:) Loved reading the stories shared here, particularly enjoyed the painted mailbox – international orange – and wish we had something we could paint that colour. Maybe the railings on our balcony?!
    Thanks, Jet, and have a wonderful long weekend!

    • Always fun to hear from you, pc. I know well your appreciation of the GGB, and so enjoyed viewing it with you and Mrs. PC. Glad you enjoyed the post! This weekend is our Memorial Day w-end, so I am having fun with an extra day off to savor warm days, friends, and barbecues. My best wishes to you and Mrs. PC for a fun weekend too.

  10. Very nice to get to know more about this landmark through your blog Jet. I have both walked and cycled across and it was a great experience (noisy from the traffic). I even saw a seal down below in the water. Nice to see the historical images as well!

    • Yes crossing the GGB on foot or bike is a noisy experience, mostly from the traffic but also from the wind. Fun that you saw a seal down below, Bertie! I appreciate your comment and visit, as always, and am glad you liked the post.

  11. There’s just something so magical about that bridge. It seems to evoke such strong feelings and good ones for the most part. I remember buying a bike in Sausalito (~1973), taking the ferry over and riding the bicycle back across to San Francisco. I picked the perfect day, the weather was terrific, but hitting city traffic on the way home was a bit terrifying. It almost seemed as though the bus drivers were trying to see just how close they could get to me without (hopefully) hitting me! Still… thanks for the great memories and the tidbit of history!

    How does one find your books, anyway?

    • There is magic in that bridge, Gunta, you’re right. How fun to take the ferry to SF, although the bike ride back does sound terrifying. I love to take ferry rides across the Bay. People do so for Giants Games, commuting, tourist boat rides. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and memories. I have one book available now, “Wicked Walkabout,” on Kindle; it is a mystery set in Australia. To buy it ($4.99) you can go to my “Books” tab here, or directly to Amazon. The 2nd in the series, set in San Francisco, is not for sale yet because I am currently editing the manuscript. It should be available within the next few months. I hope you’re enjoying this long weekend, and not working too hard on your house. My best wishes to you~~

    • Thank you Gregory. I am glad to have you stop by, and happy you enjoyed the post. Summarizing this iconic 79 year old bridge into a short post is tricky, but I was happy with the result, and glad you were too.

    • Yes, it is fascinating, Rommel, a gap of over two decades. There was a lot of resistance for not only financial reasons, but the engineering of the GGB seemed impossible. Thanks so much for your visit today.

    • I know you know how honored most residents of the Bay Area feel about this bridge, Klee. There is so much info about the history, the making, and the celebration of the GGB, it’s tough to get it all into a short post. I’m glad you enjoyed it, and appreciate your comment.

  12. Although I love the sight of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and enjoyed walking across it on one visit to the city, it is a shame that there are no longer ferry services available.

    • There are ferry services, I’m sorry if I was misleading, Roslyn. Those old ferries stopped when the bridge went up, but over the years they have become popular again. Now there are tourist ferry boats, Giants ferries that go directly to the stadium, commuter ferries that are packed with office workers and their digital devices, ferries that go to Alcatraz and Angel Islands too. As a traveler of public transportation, you would love them.

  13. A real marvel of engineering dear Jet!Athena’s lovely images and your compelling references to the construction details made a great Birthday tribute to the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge.So much history and facts behind!All the best to you & Athena ~ Enjoy a peaceful Sunday evening 🙂 * ^ * 🙂 ~

    • I thank you so very much, Doda, for your joy and enthusiasm of the GGB post. I sure enjoyed putting it together, and as always, learned a lot. I’m happy I could share the info and photos with you, always a pleasure. I am enjoying a peaceful Sunday and holiday Monday, and hope you are too. My best wishes and smiles to you, dear Doda. (^?^)

  14. Thank you for this fascinating post, Jet! It was great to learn about the history and the process of building of this magnificent bridge. I have been there and truly admire the skill of those who built it!

  15. Jet, thanks for this fascinating historical account of this iconic bridge! the vision back then and the wonders of engineering are truly a marvel! I’ve seen it twice but I want to visit again 🙂 happy birthday Golden Gate! 🙂

  16. Amazing story! So many things in the history of humanity thought to be impossible 🙂 Beautiful, hard working bridge, probably everyone in the world knows it.
    I hope to visit San Francisco some day, not only the airport 🙂

    • It is indeed a thrill to cross the GGB, but you’re right Sylvia, getting a photo while driving on it is tricky. I have lots of those, and none of them are very good. Either way, it’s always a thrill. Many thanks!

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