The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge: the pride of San Francisco

The workers overcame many difficulties: strong tides, frequent storms and fog.

Photo: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco It is an impressive technological and artistic achievement, which was opened to the public on May 27, 1937, after five years of construction.

The day of the inauguration, coincided with the “Day of the pedestrian”, Some 200,000 walkers marveled at the 4,200-foot-long suspension bridgewhich crosses the Golden Gate Sound at the entrance to the San Francisco Bay and connects San Francisco and Marin County.

The next day, on May 28, the Golden Gate Bridge was opened to vehicular traffic.

Construction workers placing steel beams on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco during its construction. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The concept of bridging the nearly mile-wide Golden Gate strait was proposed as early as 1872, but it was not until the early 1920s that public opinion in San Francisco began to favor such an undertaking.

In 1921, Cincinnati-born bridge engineer Joseph Strauss submitted a preliminary proposal: a suspension and cantilever combination that could be built for $27 million. Though unsightly in comparison to the end result, his design was affordable, and Strauss became the recognized leader of the effort to bridge the Golden Gate strait.

Over the next several years, Strauss’s design evolved rapidly through contributions from consulting engineer Leon S. Moisseiff, architect Irving F. Morrow, and others. Strauss accepted Moisseiff’s concept of a simple suspension bridge, and Morrow, along with his wife, Gertrude, developed the elegant Art Deco design of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Later, Morrow would help choose the bridge’s signature color: “international orange,” a bright vermilion color that resists rust and fading and suits San Francisco’s natural beauty and picturesque sunsets.. In 1929 Strauss was selected as chief engineer.

1935: One of the struts erected in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, connecting Marin and San Francisco, casts a shadow on the houses below. (General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

To finance the bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District was formed in 1928, consisting of San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Del Norte, and parts of Mendocino and Napa counties. These counties collectively agreed to take out a large bond, which would then be paid for through bridge tolls.

In November 1930, residents of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District voted 3-1 to put up their homes, farms and businesses as collateral to back a $35 million bond to build Strauss’s Golden Gate Bridge.

Construction began on January 5, 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression. Strauss and his workers overcame many difficulties: strong tides, frequent storms and fog, and the problem of blasting rocks 65 feet underwater to plant earthquake-proof foundations; 11 men died during construction.

On May 27, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to great acclaim, a symbol of progress in the Bay Area during a time of economic crisis. At 4,200 feet, it was the longest bridge in the world until New York City’s Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was completed in 1964.

Today, the Golden Gate Bridge remains one of the most recognizable architectural structures in the world.

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