8 Surprising Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge

8 Surprising Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge

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The 1.7-mile-long Golden Gate Bridge, an icon of the San Francisco Bay region, connects the city of San Francisco to Marin County, California. At its completion in 1937, the suspension bridge was considered an engineering marvel—the longest main suspension bridge span in the world. It held that record until New York City's Verrazano Narrows Bridge opened in 1964 and, as of 2019, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan boasts the world’s longest span.

Today, the West Coast landmark draws millions of commuters—and tourists—each year. Here are eight historical and surprising fast facts about the Golden Gate Bridge.

1. An earthquake struck the bridge before it was even completed.

In June 1935 an earthquake struck the region as men worked atop the bridge's unfinished south tower. According to PBS' American Experience, one worker recalled, "the tower swayed 16 feet each way. There were 12 or 13 guys on top with no way to get down... The whole thing would sway toward the ocean, guys would say, 'here we go!' Then it would sway back toward the bay."

2. A safety net below the bridge saved the lives of 19 men during its construction.

During construction, a safety net was suspended under the floor of the bridge, extending 10 feet wider than the bridge’s width and 15 feet longer than its length. The net proved an invaluable precaution as it saved the lives of 19 men. These men became known as members of the "Half-Way-to-Hell Club." Despite such safety measures, 11 men died during the bridge's construction.

3. The bridge's orange color was originally intended just as a primer.

The U.S. Navy had lobbied that the bridge be painted in blue and yellow stripes to increase its visibility. But when the steel arrived in San Francisco painted in a burnt red hue as primer, the consulting architect decided the color was both highly visible—and more pleasing to the eye. The bridge's color is officially called international orange.

4. Many 'firsts' were set on the bridges opening day.

San Franciscans celebrated the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge with Pedestrian Day on May 27, 1937. As many as 200,000 people crossed the bridge that day. People competed to be the first to run, push a baby stroller, and even roller skate across the Golden Gate Bridge.

The San Francisco Chronicle recorded some of the more outlandish firsts, including the first person to cross the Golden Gate Bridge on stilts. The bridge opened to vehicular traffic the following day.

5. It cost $0.50—each way—to cross the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937.

The initial toll for the bridge was 50 cents each way—roughly equivalent to an $18.00 roundtrip today—a hefty price to pay in the midst of the Great Depression. Today, Golden Gate Bridge tolls are collected in one direction only, heading southbound into the city of San Francisco.

6. Fiftieth anniversary crowds made the bridge temporarily flatten.

San Francisco celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge on May 24, 1987 with a bridge walk. The bridge began to groan and sway with an estimated 300,000 people packed like sardines onto it. The middle of the bridge sagged seven feet under the unprecedented weight, causing the iconic arch to flatten.

Officials quickly closed the bridge, preventing an additional 600,000 people from crossing. Engineers afterward said that the bridge, which was built to bend, was never in danger of collapsing.

7. The Golden Gate Bridges fog horns blare different tones.

The Golden Gate Bridge’s fog horns, mounted at the middle and south tower (San Francisco side) of the bridge, may be nearly as iconic as the structure itself. The San Francisco Bay is famously foggy, and the bridge may have a slight influence on directing the flow of the fog as it pushes up and pours down around the Bridge. Each horn emits a different tone at different times to help guide ships safely through dense fog.

During March, the fog horns may be heard for less than half-an-hour a day, though during the summer—San Francisco’s foggy season—they may blare for five or more hours for days at a time. The two fog horns, on average, sound for an average of 2.5 hours each day throughout the year.

The color of the bridge, officially called international orange, was chosen in part because of its high visibility in fog.

8. It took 30 years to remove lead-based paint from the bridge.

In the 1930s, the Golden Gate Bridge was coated with a primer that was two-thirds (by weight) lead. The architects intended the lead-based paint to protect the steel structure from corrosion, but later learned that lead is harmful to humans and the environment.

A massive cleanup effort to remove all the lead-based paint from the bridge started in 1965 and ended in 1995. Today, a zinc-based primer paint is used instead. The Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District calls the zinc a “sacrificial metal” that protects the steel from rust.

5 Things You Didn't Know About the Lions Gate Bridge

Each week we’ll uncover some unusual and (hopefully) interesting facts about the city. This week we take on the Lions Gate Bridge.

1. People rallied against the idea of a new bridge

Photo: James Crookall. AM640-S1-: CVA 260-984.

The decision to construct was actually put to the electorate of Vancouver in 1927 and was initially defeated. Citizens were concerned that the new bridge would damage or ruin Stanley Park, cause problems for the busy seaport or take away too much toll revenue from the Second Narrows Bridge. Later in 1933, cooler heads prevailed and the city moved forward, finally providing an efficient connection between the North Shore and the city’s downtown core. Construction began on March 31, 1937 and the bridge officially opened on November 14, 1938.

2. Austrian-Canadian sculptor, Charles Marega, designed the ‘lions’

Photo: A.C. Kelly. AM1399-S3-: CVA 1399-399.

Originally from Lucinico, Marega and his wife Bertha decided to settle in Vancouver because the North Shore Mountains reminded them of Bertha’s native Switzerland. While the lions may be Marega’s most celebrated work, his sculptures can be found all over the city. His work includes the Joe Fortes memorial fountain in English Bay, the President Warren Harding Memorial in Stanley Park and the Stanley Park promenade the concrete pedestrian bridge that extends from the sidewalk between the Stanley Park Causeway and the seawall in Coal Harbour.

3. The bridge wouldn’t have been possible without Guinness

Lions Gate Bridge.

Yes the stout, but also the family. Alfred James Towle Taylor owned the provincial franchise to build the bridge, but did not have the funds to purchase the necessary land in North Vancouver and West Vancouver. He was able to convince the Guinness family to invest in the land, resulting in their purchase of approximately 4,700 acres of West Vancouver mountainside. The Guinness family owned the bridge until January 20, 1955, when sold the bridge to the province for $5,959,060.

4. The bridge’s distinct lighting was a gift

Despite no longer owning the bridge, the Guinness family donated the Lions Gate a new set of lights as a gift for Expo '86. The lights transformed the bridge into a distinct landmark, but also cost the city tons in energy bills and maintenance. In July 2009, the bridge's lighting system was updated with new LED lights, which reduced power consumption by 90%, saving the province about $30,000 a year in energy costs.

5. The city almost replaced the bridge in the 1990s

By the 1990s, the bridge needed significant upgrades or to be replaced entirely. Among the proposed solutions were building a new bridge besides the original Lions Gate, building an underground tunnel, or making the Lions Gate a double decker bridge. However, due to the city’s unwillingness to spend major amount of money and concerns over increasing the amount of traffic into the downtown core, the city decided to make basic upgrades rather than adding additional lanes.

The Lions Gate used to be a toll bridge: a toll of 25 cents was charged for each car that used the bridge until the toll was removed on April1, 1963.

Photo: Roger Cameron Greig.

Interesting facts about the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge, which spans the San Francisco Bay and connects the city to its northern sububrs, is one of the world’s most famous structures.

The bridge’s original design, produced by chief engineer Joseph Strauss in 1921, was a clunky hybrid of acantilever and suspension bridge that according to one critic resembled “an upside-down rat trap.” It was functional, but far from elegant.

By 1929, consulting engineers Leon S. Moisseiff and O.H. Ammann had persuaded Strauss to accept the more graceful all-suspension bridge design that we see today.

Senior engineer Charles Alton Ellis, collaborating remotely with Moisseiff, was the principal engineer of the project.

Irving Morrow, a relatively unknown residential architect, designed the overall shape of the bridge towers, the lighting scheme, and Art Deco elements, such as the tower decorations, streetlights, railing, and walkways.

It took just four years and five months — January 1933 to May 1937 — to build the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge cost approximately $35.5 million, and 11 died to build it – less than many similar projects.

San Francisco‘s Golden Gate Bridge opened on May 27 1937, instantly becoming a much-loved symbol of the city and an iconic piece of architecture around the world.

The total length of the Golden Gate Bridge is 2.73 kilometers (1.7 miles).

The total weight of the bridge is 804,672 tonnes (887,000 US tons) about 80,000 tonnes (88,000 US tons) is steel it lost 6,803 tonnes (7,500 US tons) in the 1980s when the roadway deck was replaced.

There are two towers that hold up the two steel cables anchoring the bridge. Also, there are approximately 129,000 kilometers (80,000 miles) of wire inside each of the two steel cables.And there are about 600,000 rivets in each of the two towers.

The towers stand 221 meters (726 feet) above the water and 152 meters (500 feet) above street level. They weigh 40,000 tonnes (44,000 US tons) each and are 1280 meters (4,200 feet) apart from each other.

The bridge is 27 meters (90 feet) wide. There are 6 driving lanes and 2 sidewalks. The width of the driving lanes is 19 meters (62 feet) between curbs and the sidewalks are 3 meters (10 feet) each. Street level is about 67 meters (220 feet) above the water.

Average daily use: 112,000 vehicles, 10,000 pedestrians, and 6,000 bicycles per day.

The Golden Gate Bridge roadway can move up and down as much as 5 meters (16 feet).

The color of the Golden Gate Bridge is actually called ‘international orange‘.

International Orange was selected as the color of the bridge because it provided visibility in the fog for passing ships and also because it was a color that fit in naturally to the bridge’s setting and the surrounding land area.

Rumor has it that the Bridge is painted end to end every year actually, it is painted based on the priorities set by regular inspections.

The paint protects the bridge from the high salt content in the air which rusts and corrodes the steel components.

High winds have closed the Golden Gate Bridge only 3 times in its history: 1951, 1982, and 1983.

The bridge has also been closed for visits from dignitaries President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Charles de Gaulle of France and also on its 50th and 75th Anniversaries.

The biggest threat it’s faced in its history, was its 50th birthday party, when 300,000 pedestrians crossed it (far more than expected). The bridge flattened, but was not stressed, engineers say, possibly due to the fact it was strengthened the previous year.

Three babies (that we know of) have been born on the Golden Gate Bridge. All of them have been boys.

The Golden Gate Bridge stood as the longest suspension bridge in the world from 1937 until 1964, when the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was completed connecting the New York City boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Today, the Golden Gate Bridge is the world’s 12th longest suspension bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge is one the seven wonders of the modern world.

The Golden Gate is at its most enchanting in the morning when the bridge is often shrouded in mist. But the bridge is also alluring at night when the lighting makes it seem as if the spires of the towers dissolve in the darkness.

The Golden Gate National Parks stretch 65 kilometers (40 miles) north and 65 kilometers (40 miles) south of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Captain John C. Fremont names the cleft in the Coastal Mountain Range opening onto San Francisco Bay the Golden Gate.The bridge derives its name from the land feature and not its color.

The Golden Gate Strait is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The strait is approximately 4.8 kilometers (3 miles) long by 1.6 kilometers (1 mile) wide with currents ranging from 4.5 to 7.5 knots.

Hollywood loves the Bridge and it steals the scene in more than two dozen films, including Vertigo, The Love Bug, Superman, Star Trek, Hulk, Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Ant-Man.

The bridge has been featured on the cover of the February 26, 1976 issue of Rolling Stone.

On February 22, 1985, the one billionth driver crossed the bridge. Arthur Molinari, a dentist, received abridge-construction hard hat and a case of Champagne.

Fun & Interesting Events at the Bridge

September 5, 2014: Two black-tailed deer made their way across the Golden Gate Bridge during the evening commute. Traffic stopped in both directions while the deer made their way from San Francisco to Marin County. Watch a video of their safe crossing HERE.

April 2012: NBC Bay Area Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary float at the Petaluma Butter and Egg Days Parade.

August 4, 2011: For a BlogHer conference in San Diego, CA, the Hersey Company, as a sponsor of the conference, Twizzler-ized the Golden Gate Bridge along with New York&rsquos Statue of Liberty and Seattle&rsquos Space Needle.

June 22, 2011: More than 100 race fans joined NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer (No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet) for a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge.

October 21, 2011: A group of people did jumping jacks trying to set a Guinness World Record for the most people doing jumping jacks in a 24-hour period as part of First Lady Michelle Obama's physical fitness campaign. The group was joined by Jennee LaLanne and Chris LaLanne who pointed out that the Jumping Jack was named after their grand uncle Jack LaLanne.

January 27, 2010: At 6:45 am, the Queen Victoria was greeted by the Golden Gate Bridge foghorns. The Queen Victoria, Cunard's newest luxury liner and the company's second largest, was making her Maiden Call to San Francisco during her current world voyage.

February 17, 2010: Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in a cable car during his victory tour of San Francisco.

March 16, 2010: Three massive cranes aboard the Zhen Hua 15 which came from Shanghai, China en route to the Port of Oakland, passed under the Golden Gate Bridge just after 8:30 am. The crew spent the past weekend in Drakes Bay lowering the structural apexes of the cranes as they are 253 feet high at full height and the midspan clearance of the Golden Gate Bridge is 220 ft.

April 2010: The Harlem Globetrotters walked across the Bridge after a bit of showing off for the crowd at Vista Point.

February 16, 2009: While enduring a torrential downpour, Amgen Tour of California peloton headed south towards Santa Cruz via the GGB roadway at 8:40 am. Lance Armstrong was among the top world class racers cheered on by the very hearty and wet spectators on-hand to witness this first-ever milestone.

March 11, 2009: The largest crane barge on the west coast passes under the Golden Gate Bridge. The crane, nicknamed the "The Left Coast Lifter,'' is fixed to a barge that measures 400 feet by 100 feet. The crane&rsquos boom is 328 feet long, weighs 992 tons, and is capable of lifting 1,873 tons of materials. The crane will be used in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Project and will place all of the self-anchored suspension bridge deck sections and the lower portions of the new span's tower, projected to stand 525 feet tall.

May 3, 2009: At about 6:20 pm, the CHP stopped a horseback rider who was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk. Horses are not allowed to cross the Bridge sidewalks due to safety considerations.

April 7, 2008: Three pro-Tibet protesters climbed the Golden Gate Bridge vertical suspension cables at a location near the south tower at about 10:30 am and unfurled two banners intended to draw attention to Chinese human rights violations in Tibet. The protest by Students for a Free Tibet came the day before the Olympic Torch was set to arrive in San Francisco for its only North American stop before this summer's games in Beijing. One banner read, "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 08," a play on the official slogan of the Olympic Games, "One World, One Dream." The other read simply, "Free Tibet." The protesters also hung two Tibetan flags.

August 10, 2008: At 2:44 pm, a dazed pelican that unable to fly was safely recovered from the Bridge roadway. She was transferred to the International Bird Rescue Research Center, Cordelia, CA where she was named &ldquoG.G.&rdquo by her caretakers. She was released back to the wild a month later.

January 1, 2007: CHP took 10 war protesters with into custody at the Golden Gate Bridge after a three-hour standoff that backed up traffic. The confrontation began at noon when members of the women's peace organization CodePink prepared to walk across the bridge as a vigil to remember the 3,000 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.

February 4, 2007: The Queen Mary 2 made maritime history when she makes her Maiden Call to San Francisco. Thousands of maritime enthusiasts and well-wishers gathered on and all around the Bridge to view the ship as she sailed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

July 11, 2007: Durham, NC elementary school custodian Joe Venable&rsquos life-long dream came true when he visited the Bridge. His 5th grade students raised $2000 to send him and his wife to San Francisco. San Francisco Mayor proclaimed July 13, 2007, as Joe Venable Day.

August 29, 2005: A female 6-foot-tall ostrich busted its way out of a cargo van at about 4:45 pm, stopping the evening commute traffic in both directions and sending dozens of tourists racing for their cameras.

June 14, 2005: A third and final shipment of massive cranes, standing at a maximum height of 227.7 feet above waterline, bound for the Port of Oakland from China, pass under the Golden Gate Bridge with an estimated clearance of about 9 to 10 feet.

May 19, 2004: A young deer bounding onto the Golden Gate Bridge and loped across the entire span as Bridge officials and motorists watched in amazement. The deer zipped through a FasTrak lane, took the 19th Avenue exit and then disappeared into the Presidio.

May 1, 2002: The second of three shipments of massive cranes, at a maximum height of 227.7 feet above waterline, bound for the Port of Oakland from China, passes under the Golden Gate Bridge with an estimated clearance of about 12 feet.

February 5, 2001: In the wee hours of the morning, students from University of British Columbia School of Engineering claimed credit for dangling a VW bug off the side of the Golden Gate Bridge, per their past tradition of hanging something large from a known structure. The so-called prank tied up traffic for several hours that morning.

October 24, 2000: The first of three shipments of massive cranes with a maximum height of 223.75 feet above the waterline bound for the Port of Oakland from China passes under the Golden Gate Bridge with an estimated clearance of about 8 feet.

September 3, 1998: United States Postal Service unveils Golden Gate Bridge commemorative stamp.

May 1, 1997: As part of the public outreach efforts to raise awareness about the Bridge&rsquos 45 mph speed limit, 15 NASCAR Winston Cup race cars crossed the Bridge with &ldquotaxi-top&rdquo signs reading &ldquoI Can Drive 45 on the Golden Gate Bridge."

November 23, 1996: Actor Woody Harrelson and eight other demonstrators were arrested for climbing onto the Golden Gate Bridge main cable and south tower with a banner protesting the logging of ancient redwoods in Humboldt County. The protest tied up traffic for hours.

September 18, 1987: During his 1987 spiritual outreach tour of several U.S. cities, Pope John Paul II made a stop at a Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point in San Francisco.

February 22, 1985: One billionth car crosses the Golden Gate Bridge.

September 29, 1984: The District Board of Directors decides to allow a British production company to film a scene of a new James Bond movie on one of the Golden Gate Bridge main cables, at a height of more than 700 feet above water. The film, "A View to a Kill," features Roger Moore as Bond. One of the more spectacular scenes is a fight between Bond and a villain on the north tower of the Bridge with the loser of the fight falling to his death from the main cable.

February 5, 1976: It snowed up to two inches on San Francisco streets with a in dusting the Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. See photo for the snow here: http://blog.pictopia.com/blog/2011/02/23/featured-photo-snow-in-the-san-francisco-bay-area/

1954: At age 40, one of the founding fathers of fitness, Jack LaLanne, proved his belief that &ldquoanything in life is possible if you apply yourself&rdquo by captivating the entire world when he swam the length of the Golden Gate Strait (approx 1.7 miles) with 140 pounds of equipment strapped to his body. A year later, he swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco while handcuffed.

July 16, 1945: The USS Indianapolis sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge with a top secret cargo heading to Hawaii for refueling, then to Tinian island where it unloaded its cargo, the uranium and major components of the atomic bomb to be dropped on Hiroshima by the Enola Gay on August 6.

April 2, 1942: Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle and his 80 Raiders steamed under the Golden Gate Bridge aboard the USS Hornet with 16 B-25 Mitchell bombers tethered to the aircraft carrier&rsquos deck. The Hornet departed from Alameda at 10 am, cleared the Bridge shortly after noon, and gave the armed forces their last view of the continental United States. The Doolittle Raid on April 18, 1942, was the first strategic bombing by the U.S. to strike the Japanese archipelago during WWII.

1936: Pan American Clipper aircraft fly over the Golden Gate Bridge when the roadway was under construction.

20 Little-Known Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most famous, photographed, and beloved landmarks in the world. Yet as popular as it is, there are several things that most people don’t know about the graceful span and all the ways to experience it.

  1. A bridge across the Golden Gate Strait was first proposed in 1872 and championed by railroad mogul Charles Crocker but the idea didn’t catch on. Strauss Plaza was opened in 2013 and was named for him.
  2. Chief engineer Joseph Strauss’ first design, in 1921, was rejected as too ugly.
  3. The cables on the bridge were manufactured by the same company who built the Brooklyn Bridge.
  4. The great California nature photographer Ansel Adams worried that building a bridge across the Golden Gate would ruin the beauty of the place. When Adams saw the finished Golden Gate Bridge, he changed his mind.
  5. Eleven men died in accidents during construction, 10 of them on the same day. Another 19 workers caught by a safety net below the bridge were dubbed members of the “Halfway to Hell Club.”
  6. The Navy suggested that the bridge should be painted in black and yellow stripes. The Army Air Corps wanted candy cane red and white stripes. The signature International Orange hue was actually the color of the primer. Consulting architect Irving Morrow successfully lobbied for the bridge to be permanently painted International Orange.
  7. According to urban legend, the Golden Gate Bridge is painted continuously, end-to-end. Not so. The bridge is painted and touched up according to need.
  8. Fifty thousand people walked across the new bridge on May 26, 1937. It was opened to motor vehicles the next day. On May 24, 1987, some 300,000 people squeezed onto the bridge for a 50th birthday party called Bridgewalk 87. The weight of bridge walkers that day caused the roadway to sag in the middle by 7 feet, but bridge engineers said the structure always remained safe.
  9. The six-lane bridge is 1.7 miles long, linking San Francisco on the south with Marin County on the north.
  10. The total cost of bridge construction was $35 million.
  11. The bridge weighs 887,700 tons, after shedding 12,300 tons when the roadway was replaced in the 1980s.
  12. The two main suspension cables use a combined 80,000 miles of wire. Looped around the Earth’s equator in a single strand, it would circle the planet three times.
  13. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world until 1964. It is now the ninth-longest.
  14. By 2015, more than 2 billion motor vehicles had passed over the Golden Gate Bridge.
  15. The Bridge Pavillion, a glassy modern building in signature International Orange that serves as the visitor’s center, highlights orientation and interpretative information about the bridge and its construction. It also has terrific views of the bridge and the Pacific Ocean.
  16. On the Marin side, aptly named Vista Point overlooks the bay, the bridge and the city skyline from just off the bridge’s east sidewalk.
  17. Stretching a mile below the rugged cliffs on the Presidio’s western shoreline, Baker Beach’s spectacular outside-the-Gate views of the Bridge and the Marin Headlands are unsurpassed. It is roughly a half mile long, beginning just south of Golden Gate Point (where the Golden Gate Bridge connects with the peninsula), extending southward toward the Seacliff peninsula.
  18. The famed toll-bridge gets 10 million visitors a year. Most drive across on U.S. Highway 101. A toll is paid electronically at the San Francisco end.
  19. Walkers and bicyclists share the east sidewalk overlooking San Francisco Bay and bicyclists also use the west sidewalk on the ocean side. Walking and cycling give easy access to nearby scenic attractions like the California Coastal Trail in San Francisco and the Marin Headlands and Fort Baker in Marin County.
  20. Going under the bridge allows visitors to appreciate its immensity and brilliant architecture. Walkers can pause under the span at Fort Point, and there are numerous boat options to sail beneath the bridge.

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Anthony has found travel provides a healthy balance to his day job as a criminal defense attorney. Living on the periphery of blogging for years, he’s now decided to flex his creative muscles with a little writing and photography of his own. Anthony’s favorite travel destinations are the Caribbean, Italy, and Ireland.

#4 The construction of the bridge faced opposition from many sources

The journey of the Golden Gate Bridge from initial designs to actual construction faced opposition from many sources, including the Southern Pacific Railroad, the US Navy and the US Department of War. Southern Pacific Railroad , owners of a majority stake in the ferry fleet which took commuters from San Francisco and Marin County, saw the bridge as competition and filed a lawsuit against the project . This led to a mass boycott of its services. The US Navy was concerned that the sabotage to the bridge could block access to one of the principal harbors and feared ship collisions . The US Department of War , which owned the land on both sides of the Strait, was worried that the bridge would interfere with ship traffic. Moreover, environmentalists opposed the bridge as they believed that it would mar the beauty of the strait . It took several favorable court rulings, two Federal hearings and an enabling act from the State legislature before the bridge was finally approved. Moreover, it was guaranteed that local workers would be favored for construction jobs to meet the demands of the Unions. The US War Department granted a temporary construction permit on December 24, 1924 and the final construction permit on August 11, 1930 .

Facts & Figures About the Bridge

Period of construction: Just over four years. Construction commenced on January 5, 1933 and the Bridge was open to vehicular traffic on May 29, 1937.

Cost: $35 million dollars in the 1930&rsquos, approximately $1.5 billion in year 2016 dollars.

The name Golden Gate does not refer to the Bridge&rsquos color, it is the name of the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, which is called the Golden Gate Strait. A suspension bridge is the structural opposite of an arch.

The curving cables of a suspension bridge are in tension, experiencing pulling forces. The opposite or upside down picture of those curves looks like an arch. The forces in the arch, compression forces, are the opposite of the tension forces that the suspension bridge cables experience.

How big is the Golden Gate Bridge? When constructed in 1937, it set the world record for the longest bridge span, the distance between supports (4,200 ft, 1,280 m) and also the tallest towers.

Height of tower above water: 746 ft = 227 m

Height of tower above roadway: 500 ft = 152 m

Length of suspension span including main span and side spans: 1.2 miles = 6,450 ft = 1,966 m

Total length of Bridge including approaches from abutment to abutment: 1.7 miles = 8,981 ft = 2,737 m.

The width of Bridge: 90 ft = 27 m

The weight of the Bridge, not counting the concrete anchorages, is 840 million pounds (382 million kg) - heavier than the Empire State Building.

Cable section exhibit is located near parking lot behind the pavilion.

How big is the main cable? The diameter of one main cable: 36 3/8 in. = 0.92 m

Length of one main cable: 7,650 ft = 2,332 m

Each cable is composed of 27,572 wires. If the wires were one continuous length, they could wrap around the earth over three times. Shown above is a diagram of how the 27,572 wires in a cable were grouped together and then tightly compressed into their final form by a hydraulic press.

Why is it called the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District? Traffic jams are rare on the Bridge because the Bridge District added ferry (1970) and bus (1972) transit service. Annually, 40 million vehicles cross the Bridge two-and-one-half million passengers are transported by the ferries and over 6 million passengers ride the buses.

For more interesting facts and figures, visit the History & Research section of our site.

11-15 Golden Gate Bridge Facts

11. The Golden Gate Bridge is about 60 times heavier than the Brooklyn Bridge. – Source

12. 4 days after his father jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge, a UCLA pre-med student drove the same car that his father had driven to the bridge and also committed suicide leaving a short note that said ””I am sorry. . . . I want to keep dad company.” – Source

13. By 2018 the golden gate bridge will have anti-suicide features. – Source

14. The Cisco logo is the Golden Gate Bridge, the company was named after San Francisco while the founders were on their way to register the company and saw the bridge. – Source

15. The roadway across the Golden Gate Bridge rises and falls as much as 16 feet depending on the temperature. – Source

8 Surprising Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge - HISTORY

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate, a strait that separates San Francisco, California from Marin County, links the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. From 1820 to 1937, the only way to cross this water was on a ferry. The Golden Gate Bridge offered another option.

Fun Facts

  • `During the mid-1800s, California boomed with gold mining and agriculture. People needed a way to get from Marin County to San Francisco.
  • The Sausalito Land and Ferry Company opened a ferry operation in 1867 to take train passengers across the strait. By 1920 this company was the largest ferry operation in the world.


  1. Strait: a narrow strip of water that joins two bodies of water
  2. Ferry: small boat
  3. Turbulent: rough or dangerous

Questions and Answers

Question: Was building the bridge dangerous?

Answer: Yes, but Ellis installed moveable safety nets that reduced the danger in the event of a fall. 21 men were saved by the nets after falling, although 11 men were killed during construction.

8 Surprising Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge - HISTORY

1. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World. It was open in 1937 after it took 100 years of planning. It connects the southern tip of San Francisco to the rest of Marin County. Prior to the building of this suspension bridge the only way to cross the bay was by boat.

2. It is THE most photographed bridge in the world! It is in fact not “gold” in color but orange. The way the sun hits the bridge makes it seemingly Golden. The orange color for the bridge was chosen because the designers thought it would blend more naturally with the surroundings and it would make it easier for boats to spot the bridge in the dense San Francisco fog.

3. Eleven men died during the construction of the bridge. The bridge is over 8,000 feet long, actually closer to 9,000 feet and spans 416 feet above the water.

4. The bridge is held up by two cables that contain over 25000 wires each. To build the bridge today it would cost over 2 billion dollars. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world until the nineteen sixties when the Verranzano Narrows bridge was constructed in NYC.

5. For many years engineers advised against the bridge because of the high winds and strong tidal currents of the bay but construction went ahead anyway. The bridge has stood without a problem for almost 100 years!

6. It has had over 2 billion passengers cross the bridge since it was built! It has 6 lanes on either side including walkways on both sides. It has the unfortunate recognition of being the second leading suicide spot in the world. It is second only to a bridge in Japan when it comes to the number of people that jump off the bridge.

7. A camera was set up as part of a documentary project and it caught 10 people trying to make the jump in a little less than a month. It is estimated that hundreds of people have jumped to their death from the bridge during its course of history. Sadly most people are never recovered.

8. This bridge has appeared on more magazine covers than any other bridge in the world including Rolling Stone magazine.

9. The bridge that could not be built has stood tall and proud and has become a symbol around the world of he west coast of America!

Watch the video: Top 10 Surprising Facts About The Golden Gate Bridge