Saturday, July 9, 2011

Golden Gate Bridge

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The Golden Gate Bridge

Before 1937 the public believed it impossible to build a bridge across the mile-wide Golden Gate strait that connects San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco to Marin county. Someone thought it was possible though, Joseph B. Strauss, a team of engineers, and many dedicated workers and professionals, oversaw the creation of a structure that has become world-renowned. Now, “The Golden Gate Bridge has earned the reputation as the world’s most spectacular Bridge and is one of the most visited sites in the world.”

“Efforts to begin the construction on the bridge, began as early as 1928. The process would entail the efforts of six counties in Northern California. In 1928, the counties formed a Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District. In 1930, the voters appropriated a $5 million bond issue to finance the building of the bridge. For many years following, Joseph Baerman Strauss, a distinguished engineer, had dreamed of raising a span across the Golden Gate. It was in response to his vision that people first started saying that the bridge could not be built. But, amazingly enough, Strauss held fast to his vision, and a span was eventually raised across the Golden Gate Bridge. The actual work on the bridge began on January 5, 1933. It was completed four-and-one-half years later. The result astounded the fiercest of Strausss critics. To this day, the bridge is admired for its magnitude and beauty.”

“Joseph Baerman Strauss knew he could complete his dream of building a bridge across the Golden Gate. Though Strauss only lived a year beyond completion of the Golden Gate Bridge he disproved the conventional wisdom of the time that no one can bridge the Golden Gate because of insurmountable difficulties which are apparent to all who give thought to the idea.

“The bridge was considered impossible to build, due to persistently foggy weather, 60-mile-per-hour winds, and strong ocean currents, which whipped through a deep canyon below. In fact, the bridge is commonly known as the Bridge that couldnt be built. Despite these unforgiving natural elements, the bridge was constructed in a little more than four years.” “The bridge is nothing short of a powerful force meant to combat nature. The often mighty winds from the Pacific Ocean are sustained by a mid span swing of 7 feet. The two towers of the bridge rise an impressive 746 feet, which is 11 feet taller than the Washington Monument. The pier of the bridge is only 1,15 feet from the shore, the distance between the two towers that support the cables, which in turn, support the floor of the bridge is 4,00 feet. These two cables are the largest bridge cables ever made at a little over 61 feet in diameter.”

The total cost was $5 million. “Linking San Francisco with Marin County the 1.7 mile-long suspension bridge can be crossed by car, on bicycles or on foot. The GGB opened to vehicular traffic on May 8, 17 at twelve oclock noon, ahead of schedule and under budget, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in the White House announcing the event.” “Today, pedestrians and bicyclists are still allowed to cross the bridge on pathways with breathtaking views of the city, Alcatraz, and the Marin Headlands. The bridge toll for vehicles is $ when entering San Francisco. The best way to view the bridge is to walk across. This usually takes about an hour.”

Eleven men lost their lives during the construction of the bridge. “During the initial building of the bridge no safety devices were used and sadly several men fell to their deaths. However, during the last part of the project, the construction company stretched a large safety net under the bridge at a cost of $100,000.” “The most famous of the original construction workers became known as the Half-Way-to-Hell Club when the safety net suspended beneath the floor of the Bridge saved the lives of nineteen men. Until February 17, 1937, there had been only one fatality during the construction of the Bridge. This was a new record in a field where the norm had been that one man was killed for every million dollars spent. On that sad day in February, ten men lost their lives when a section of scaffold carrying twelve men fell through the safety net.”

Modern day art themes were considered when this was built. “The design of the Golden Gate Bridge echoes an Art Deco Theme. Wide, vertical ribbing on the horizontal tower bracing accents the suns light on the bridge. The towers that support the Golden Gate Bridges suspension cables are smaller at the top than at the base, emphasizing the tower height of 500 feet above the roadway. Coit tower is another San Francisco landmark with an art deco design.”

It is said that the reason the Golden Gate Bridge was painted International Orange rather than Gold was that they believed it would look best with the surroundings. The Golden Gate is still kept in excellent condition today; there is even a specific bridge division. “A revered and rugged group of Ironworkers and Painters battle wind, sea air and fog, often suspended high above the Gate, to repair corroding steel. Ironworkers replace corroding steel and rivets, make small fabrications for use on the Bridge, and assist Painters with their rigging. Ironworkers also remove plates and bars to provide access for Painters to the interiors of the columns and chords that make up the Bridge. Painters prepare all Bridge surfaces and repaint all corroded areas. The Streets and Grounds team, consisting of Gardeners, Laborers, Cement Masons and a Carpenter, keep the surrounding areas of the Golden Gate Bridge in proper repair and attractive for the over nine million visitors each year.”

The Golden Gate Bridge is truly a work of art. From the time it was “something that was not able to be built” to its completion of beautiful orange span of 1.7 miles connecting San Francisco to Marin county. Many men risked their lives to help build this incredible bridge, some even died, and it was worth it, the structure remains today and had been a big help over the sixty-six years it has been aloft.


-The Golden Gate Bridge (Building America) by Craig A. Doherty

-“Golden Gate Bridge” by Bradney W. Simon, available at http//

- “Golden Gate Bridge Maintenance and Operations” available at http//

- “The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco” available at http//

- “Golden Gate Bridge History and Information” available at http//

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