25 Fun and Interesting Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is not only an icon, it is a towering symbol of how everyday people defied gravity and harnessed great imagination to get it built. Despite its superstar status, the history and quirks of the bridge are sometimes lost on the public. So the next time you’re crossing over the bridge, share one of these facts with the folks you’re traveling with!
The Golden Gate Bridge is heavy!
Today, the bridge weighs a total of 887,000 tons. It was actually a little heavier back in the 1980s, but lost a bit of weight (over 12,000 tons to be exact) when the vehicle lanes were updated.
The locals were not happy when the bridge project was first announced.
The journey between San Francisco and Marin County was very profitable to those who ran ferry services between the two cities. Local ferrymen and transport businesses believed the construction of the bridge would impede their operations.
The official color of the bridge is called “International Orange.”
The lead architect on the project originally wanted a true red color for the bridge, however, the team settled on a reddish-orangish mix called “International Orange.” If you’re interested in using the color, you can replicate it with basic color coding! That’s right, you could have an International Orange accent wall in your home.
The bridge is constantly being painted.
Because the Golden Gate has such a large surface area, some section of the bridge is always in touch-up mode. It takes a heck of a lot of maintenance to keep that iconic red so vibrant!
The towers of the Golden Gate are tall.
Each tower literally towers over the street level at 500 feet and 726 feet above the water below.
A safety net proved priceless during the bridge’s construction.
During the time of construction, a huge net was suspended under the bridge which extended 10 feet wider and 15 feet beyond the length of the bridge. That net ended up saving around 20 construction workers, proving to be a priceless precaution while building the iconic landmark.
It used to cost 50 cents to cross the bridge.
Going each way, motor vehicle passengers would only need to pay 50 cents each way to cross the bridge. Today, visitors only need to pay a toll when entering San Francisco from Marin county, but the toll is much higher depending on the type of vehicle.
The Golden Gate Bridge is known for its award-winning engineering.
In the 1990s, the American Association of Civil Engineers declared the bridge to be a civil engineering wonder. There are only seven of these wonders in the U.S., with the Golden Gate included.
The bridge is long.
In total, the Golden Gate Bridge spans 1.7 miles – perfect for a short drive, a walk, a bike ride, and guided tours.
For a suspension bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge is impressive.
While it was ranked the number one longest suspension bridge in the world when it first opened, the longest suspension bridge to date is in Japan.
A dentist was the billionth traveler to cross the bridge.
In 1985, the billionth person to ever cross the bridge was a dentist by trade. Dr. Molinari received champagne and a commemorative hard hat for his journey!
200,000 people crossed the bridge on opening day in 1937.
It was a week-long celebration with parades, parties, and speeches.
40 million vehicles cross the bridge every year.
With six lanes of traffic, the dividing barrier, known as a zipper, can be adjusted to accommodate rush hour traffic, with more southbound lanes in the AM and more northbound in the PM.
300 shipwrecks are in the bay under or near the bridge.
When Karl the fog rolls in, ships back in the day could not easily navigate the water, so many of them were lost.
A fog horn is activated during times of thick fog.
Which, as most of us are aware, happens frequently in this city. The bridge’s unique fog horn tone warns coming ships so that they do not join the 300 shipwrecks already here.
Disaster struck before the bridge’s construction was even complete.
In June 1935, the region was hit by an earthquake while men were working on the south tower of the bridge.
The bridge’s suspension cables were spun at the construction site because they were going to be heavy.
And they are huge – about 3 feet in diameter! In fact, each individual wire is as thick as a pencil, with 27,472 wires going into each cable.
The bridge is (almost) always open.
The bridge has only ever closed eight times in history: due to high wind in 1951, 1982, and 1983; a cable replacement in 1975; for both the 50th and 75th-anniversary celebrations, and for visiting dignitaries FDR and Charles de Gaulle.
The bridge’s creator was also an (amateur) poet.
Joseph Strauss is the guy responsible for the construction and creation of the bridge. He wrote a famous poem about it, called The Mighty Task is Done.
Local families put their houses on the line for the bridge.
People literally put their houses in bonds to help fund the bridge project. Talk about hometown pride!
The water under the bridge is deeper than other areas in the bay.
The water surrounding the bridge is about 300 feet deep compared to the water around Alcatraz, which only goes 100 feet down.
The Golden Gate is the most popular structure in California.
Its Art Deco silhouette is recognized the world over.
There is a dedicated rescue team for the bridge.
Called The Cowboys of the Sky, it’s a group of ironworkers who have taken it upon themselves to talk to and stop those who want to jump off the bridge.
Horses are not allowed on the bridge.
We didn’t think this would be a problem, but alas. A horseback rider was stopped before crossing the bridge back in 2009.
The bridge is well-guarded.
With two forts and 11 gun batteries guarding it from the north and the south, some were put to use during WWII and some were on deck during the Cold War.
Explore the Golden Gate Bridge with a San Francisco Jeep Tour
Wondering how best to experience the Golden Gate Bridge? San Francisco Jeep Tours includes a ride over the Golden Gate Bridge in every one of our tour packages. From day trips to Muir Woods to the full San Francisco city tour, the Golden Gate Bridge is stunning from the backseat of a jeep!
Want to know more about the Golden Gate Bridge? Check out more Golden Gate Bridge info to plan your perfect visit.
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- History of the Golden Gate Bridge
- Everything You Want to Know About the Golden Gate Bridge’s Paint Color – Fun Facts, FAQ and more