Yesterday I drove across the Golden Gate Bridge, something I have done at least one hundred times in my 30+ years living in the Bay Area. Tomorrow is the Bridge’s birthday, so let’s cross it here together.
Heading southbound into San Francisco, there are a total of six lanes that span the bridge for both directions. The number of lanes per direction varies by the time of day and traffic flow.
Commuters driving to San Francisco from the north during the morning rush hours usually have four lanes, as shown in the photo below, on a workday at dawn.
Lanes are managed by a movable barrier system, so the number of lanes in each direction changes numerous times throughout each day, depending on traffic flow.
The movable barrier system is made up of 3,517 interlocking steel and concrete pieces. Called the Road Zipper for its interlocking system that resembles a zipper, it is a yellow machine operated by two people, that adjusts the lanes.
This system creates barriers between the lanes. It was installed in 2015 to prevent head-on collisions and has succeeded.
You can see the bright yellow Road Zipper in the next two photos.
The Golden Gate Bridge first opened to traffic on May 27, 1937.
The toll to cross then was 50 cents per car in each direction. Now, 86 years later, it is $9.75.
More toll info: GGB Highway and Transportation District
More info: Wikipedia Golden Gate Bridge
Many people like to cross on foot or bicycle, there are sidewalks. It’s fun…and costs nothing. It is usually cool or cold, and windy. It is also loud, with the constant and rhythmic thu-dud thu-dud of vehicles.
But it’s completely exhilarating and picturesque.
Standing on the bridge, you are 246 feet (75m) above the water. You are up high.
If it is not foggy, looking east you see the San Francisco Bay with Alcatraz and Angel Islands, and miles and miles of water.
But foggy days are frequent.
Long barges and large ships lumber to and from the shipyards.
Sailboats and yachts abound on a sunny day.
Ferries transport commuters and tourists year-round.
Looking to the west is the vast Pacific Ocean and the ridges and peaks of the Marin Headlands, a part of the Pacific Coast Range mountains.
The span is 1.7 miles (2.7 km). When your southbound drive comes to the bridge’s end, there are eight toll gates. All toll-taking is electronic, and the toll is only collected once, in the south direction.
The bridge clock is perched here too, photo below.
For San Francisco residents of today or yesterday, the Golden Gate Bridge is more than a bridge or a landmark. It is part of living in this city by the bay.
Everyone has a Golden Gate story. I love to hear the stories.
One of my dear friends who was the young child of a San Francisco police officer, for example, tells of when she was treated to the thrilling officials-only elevator ride up in the bridge tower. Another friend who went on the 50th anniversary Bridge Walk talks about the sudden and terrifying jolt when the bridge had too many pedestrians.
Some folks have antique tools or old cable pieces from the bridge, other Bay Area residents paint their homes “international orange” as a salute to the beloved bridge.
Like most people who live here, I love to cruise under the bridge. It’s quiet and serene and the bridge is far more immense than you realize.
My favorite memories are of being on boats cruising under the bridge–bird and wildlife cruises, Fourth of July firework cruises, ferry rides on lunch hours, and more.
Look at how huge this tower base is. The size of surfers, below, gives perspective.
“Born” in 1937, and 86 years later, the Golden Gate Bridge is still a much-loved landmark.
Happy Birthday to one of the world’s most beautiful bridges.
Written by Jet Eliot.
Photos by Athena Alexander.
55 thoughts on “Crossing the Golden Gate”
Great tribute to a beautiful bridge! Happy Birthday Golden Gate Bridge.
Thanks Brad. You’ll probably have noticed I had to get at least one bird in the post–the raven with the GGB. Cheers, my friend, and have a happy weekend.
I did notice the raven, soaring on the wind.
I did not doubt it, Brad. I know you don’t miss birds, my friend, we birders always have a special roving eye for our avian friends.
Thank you for this great post and beautiful photos. I learned so many things about this bridge. The last time I crossed it, I only paid $4!
I enjoyed your words, Hien, as always. A good way to know it’s been a long time since you were on the GGB: the toll has more than doubled. I’m glad you’ve been on it. Thank you.
This is a wonderful tribute to the GGB! It’s over 5 years since I last crossed the bridge. It’s always fun to cross it. I love looking up at the towers as I cross it…if I’m not driving. If I am I sneak peeks of the towers, and the view. I surrendered my fasttrak thingie shortly after moving but, the toll wasn’t nearly that high yet. I think it was $6 the last time I crossed it.
With a FasTrak it now costs $8.40 to cross the bridge, not too long since you last crossed. I love looking at those towers, too, as I cross (right, as the passenger), they’re so Art Deco, my favorite style. I enjoyed your comment, thanks so much for your visit, Deborah.
Lovely tribute to the GGB. Have you hear it hum?
A lovely question from a musician. I have heard there is a shrieking sound during storms that started after a 2020 retrofit…from the wind…but I have never heard that, fortunately. It’s almost always windy on the bridge, and that blocks a lot of the sounds except traffic. Many thanks, Timothy.
It is a magnificent bridge and achievement. Hard to believe something that extraordinary could have been built 50 years ago. Thank you for the ride across the Golden Gate Bridge 20 years ago and today.
Yes, it is a magnificent bridge and achievement. And it was not easy engineering it. It was built 86 years ago. It was a joy sharing the GGB with you, Bill, years ago and today. Love and thanks for your visit today.
Happy birthday indeed to such a beautiful bridge…..one that I have been fortunate enough to cross on several occasions….each one as exhilarating a the one before.
Thank you dear Jet…..:)
It is indeed exhilarating every time one crosses the GGB, and I am oh so glad you have had that experience several times, Janet. Thanks so much for stopping by.
Beautiful writing, beautiful photos – I really enjoyed traveling over and under the Golden Gate Bridge with you.
Thanks very much, Susan, I’m very glad you joined us on the GGB today. Nice to see you, thanks for stopping by.
Always a thrill to go over or under that bridge! Wow has it gotten $$$ though! Love that last pic!
Ah, I liked hearing from a Bay Area resident, agreeing that it is always a thrill to go over or under the bridge, even if we’ve done it lots of times. My warm thanks, Jan.
The bridge has developed character & near legendary status. Thanks, Jet, for the exhilarating visit & for that departing image of a raven (?) at the end!
Yes, I like that raven too, Walt, cruising by the GG Bridge. I’m glad you found today’s crossing exhilarating. And I always appreciate your kind words and visits, thank you.
Thank you, Cindy. I’m happy you enjoyed the Golden Gate Bridge here today.
I think that it would be impossible not to love the Golden Gate, Jet. And there’s the treat at either end: San Francisco and the Marin Highlands. One of my favorite experiences has been to sail under it. My first trip across would have been in1965 when I went across from Berkeley for a weekend at Stinson Beach. In the late 70s, I had lunch with the man who oversaw the building of it. His company was interested in a light rail system I was marshaling through the political process in Sacramento.
I enjoyed hearing about your Golden Gate Bridge experiences, Curt, and how fun to talk with the man who oversaw the building of it. Must’ve been fascinating. Many thanks for your visit.
It felt like living history, Jet.
Loved this post and photos, Jet. I have only crossed the Golden Gate Bridge once and was treated to one of the best meals ever in Sausalito. I spent many years traveling the Memphis-Arkansas bridge across the Mississippi River. I gathered with friends for Hands Across America on the bridge – gosh that was a million years ago. I recently walked the Tower Bridge in London several times during a visit. Bridges are such wonderful metaphors. 🙂
Happy birthday, Golden Gate Bridge!
Thanks for sharing this landmark with us.
It was wonderful to hear about your numerous bridge experiences, LuAnne, and you’re right, they are great metaphors. My warmest thanks for your kind words.
Great fun to read this, and admire the photographs – what a sight and site! Happy Birthday, GGB, here’s to many more years of colour and character!
Hi PC, cheers to more years of color and character, I like your words. Thanks very much for your visit today, sending a big smile your way.
A fine salute to this feat of architecture, Jet, and great photos, Athena. Such an icon! It is interesting to note that with inflation the 50-cent fee today would be $10.53, so it is a bit cheaper than it was in those first days!
Yay…you did the inflation factor, Eliza, thanks. Interesting result, too. It is cheaper, too, for folks who have a FasTrak account. Thanks so much for taking an interest in the GG Bridge, my friend, and cheers to you for a sweet Memorial Day weekend.
Thank you, dear Jet, for introducing us to the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s a masterpiece of architecture and belongs to the bay area as well as the waters of the sea and the mountains. Great pictures by Athena!
Our dear Master drove across only once about forty years ago but can remember it still. Dina drove across more often.
Wishing you a happy weekend
The Fab Four of Cley
🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂
Thanks to the Fab Four for stopping by, and I’m glad you enjoyed the Golden Gate Bridge celebration. Wishing you a happy weekend, too.
Wonderful tribute to an engineering masterpiece. I’ve only enjoyed it from a distance, and after my toll-road experiences in the East, perhaps that’s best. Do swallows use the underside?
I’ve thought about your toll-road experiences, Craig, as I wrote this and pondered tolls, and appreciated your writings. Good question about the swallows. No, I have never seen swallows underneath. And I look for and notice swallows at bridges constantly. I’ve seen ravens, pelicans and gulls around here, but not swallows. My warmest thanks to you.
I have been to SF a handful of times and am always in love with the city and the Golden Gate Bridge. Thank you for this post Jet, wonderful.
Lovely to connect with you today, Sylvia, and I’m happy you have seen and enjoyed the GG Bridge. A warm salute to you.
Lovely tribute! I’ve never crossed (or even seen) the Golden Gate Bridge but do hope to make it to San Francisco one of these days.
If you do make it to the GG Bridge, Diana, no handstands allowed. 😉 Just kidding, of course. With all your adventures and travels, I am guessing you will one day have the honor, and I know you will enjoy it. Thanks very much for your visit today.
Oh that would be a great place for a handstand!
What a grand tribute for a grand bridge! I love how you and Athena have captured it in all seasons and from all angles!
My warmest thanks for your very kind comment, Val. It was great fun showing off the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge.
Very impressive. I found the lane management interesting. I had no idea they did that with the movable concrete barriers. I’ve learned something new today.
Thanks, Anneli. I agree, the lane management on the GG Bridge is interesting. It’s a narrow bridge for six lanes of traffic, and head-on collisions were a serious problem. The speed limit is only 45 mph and that helps, but I’ve noticed few people adhere to that. Fortunately the lane management system with a bigger barrier between directions has helped. According to the GGB Administration, there have been 0 head-ons since the change. Many thanks.
Interesting. The concrete dividers have helped here even on the regular highways. On a bridge it’s even more important.
Well written and photographed. It’s been 17 years since I last crossed it, and the memories are still strong.
I’m happy you have had the fun of crossing the GG Bridge, Dave. Thanks for your visit and kind words.
Great story and photos with your wonderful memories to share
make this an exciting story to read Jet. How very exciting to experience
it and still do all of the over traveling you do!
I’m so glad you joined us for the crossing of the Golden Gate Bridge, Eddie. It is such a majestic and incredible feat of engineering…a pleasure to share it with you. Always a joy to “see” you, my friend.
Always so very kind, thank you Jet
Loved your post, love the Bridge! And loved the bird photo at the end. Had to enlarge it to make sure it wasn’t a UFO!! ;>)
Your fun comment gave me a chuckle, Nan. It was a great day when Athena and I watched the raven soaring around the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge. Also fun times crossing it with you…many times. My love and thanks, as always.
It is an impressive and beautiful structure. I enjoyed your salute to it, Jet!