History of the Golden Gate Bridge
Recognized the world over as an iconic symbol of the west, the Golden Gate Bridge was considered the longest suspension bridge in the world upon its completion in 1937. Even today, it is one of the largest bridges in America by length, spanning 4200 feet (1280 meters).
The story of the Golden Gate Bridge is fascinating, which only adds to its grandeur and larger-than-life energy. We’ll take you through the history of the bridge, from its conception to its grand opening that attracted over 200,000 people to journey across its roadway and iconic arch.
A Bold Plan
In broad strokes, the Golden Gate Bridge is a representation of the endurance of the human spirit. It was with the assistance of a famous architect, Michael O’Shaunessy, that San Francisco city officials came up with the concept of the bridge. A brilliant engineer, he previously worked on the Ohio River Bridge and New York City Port Authority. But they had a challenge – how to effectively build the bridge connecting San Francisco to Marin County over the Golden Gate Strait where San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. That responsibility fell to O’Shaunessy, just as engineers, architects, and designers across the U.S. said that it wasn’t feasible, both physically or financially.
O’Shaunessy had an ally in Joseph Strauss, a Chicago-based engineer and entrepreneur, who boldly claimed that the bridge was not only possible, but could be done for significantly less than the projected $100 million and five years allowed for its construction. Strauss projected that only $25-$30 million was needed to construct what would be the most incredible bridge in California, and quite possibly the world.
In response, residents from the surrounding counties of Marin and Sonoma stepped up and put their homes into bonds in an effort to secure funding for the Golden Gate Bridge construction project. It truly was a community effort.
Construction of the Golden Gate
Even as construction began on January 5th, 1933, there was some opposition from local families and business owners. Many believed the construction of the bridge, indeed its mere existence would interfere with their daily lives or business operations, especially those who operated ferry services going from San Francisco to the surrounding counties. Many also feared that the bridge would collapse due to an earthquake or other natural disaster, a valid concern for those living in the Bay area.
Through many fits and starts where construction was halted due to finances or pushback, Strauss’ design team got to work on the art deco-themed towers of the bridge, as well as selecting the bridge’s official color, called “International Orange.” The color was chosen to increase the safety and visibility of ships in the area. The term ‘golden’ came from its yellowish-orange hue when seen from a distance.
The towers of the bridge were completed first, followed by the on-site spinning of the suspension cables. This was an engineering feat in itself in that over 25,000 individual wires were spun into each 7,650-foot cable used to hold the bridge up. It seemed to defy all odds and laws of physics.
The Grand Opening
The bridge was completed in 1937; its final price tag was just under $27 million. It took four years and 4.5 months to build but was completed ahead of schedule and under budget.
A week-long celebration was planned, with a grand opening slated for May 27th. Famously known as the “Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta,” the soiree included nightly entertainment, fireworks, and parades, as well as pageants in neighboring Crissy Field. Over the course of that first week, over 200,0000 people joined in the festivities.
Joseph Strauss wrote a poem entitled The Mighty Task is Done in commemoration of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Today, the Golden Gate Bridge stands tall and proud. More than 200 sailing vessels pass beneath its stately arches every day coming in and out of the bay, making it an important maritime route.
See the bridge in person with a San Francisco Jeep Tour over the Bridge
If you want to visit the Golden Gate Bridge, it can be enjoyed while on a San Francisco Jeep Tour! This exciting tour includes routes and stops that offer amazing views and gives historical context for those itching to see the bridge. San Francisco Jeep City Tour, Sunset and City Lights San Francisco Jeep Tours and the Full Day Combo City and Muir Woods tour travel to different locations around San Francisco that offer incredible views of the bridge.
Check out the San Francisco Jeep Tours website for more information on traveling to and over the Golden Gate Bridge on one of their private tours.
Check out more Golden Gate Bridge information and fun facts to help you plan the perfect visit.
- Golden Gate Bridge – Information on access, parking, weather, photo locations and more
- 12 Movies Featuring the Golden Gate Bridge
- 25 Fun and Interesting Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge
- 10 Cool Ways to Visit the Golden Gate Bridge
- Everything You Want to Know About the Golden Gate Bridge’s Paint Color – Fun Facts, FAQ and more
- Top 7 Spots for Photos of the Golden Gate Bridge