Golden Gate Bridge

By | May 27, 2010

The Golden Gate Bridge has become a central element of the San Francisco landscape and it was opened for the first time on May 27, 1937. On that day it was opened for ‘Pedestrian Day’. Over 200,000 people paid 25 cents to walk the bridge. On the following day at noon President Franklin Roosevelt in Washington DC pressed a telegraph key declaring the bridge open for traffic.

From the time it opened until 1964 it had the longest suspended span of any bridge at 4,200 feet. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge was the first to be longer, with the current longest span being the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, at 1,991 meters—about 6,532 feet.

The Bridge takes it name from the Strait that it spans. The strait connect the Pacific Ocean to the San Francisco Bay. In 1846 John C. Fremont gave the strait its name saying, “To this Gate I gave the name of “Chrysopylae”, or “Golden Gate”; for the same reasons that the harbor of Byzantium was called Chrysoceras, or Golden Horn.”

When the bridge builders began construction they believed that an estimated 1 person would die for every $1 million dollars or 35 men. Only 11 men actually died during construction establishing a new safety record for the time. One reason for this may be the safety net that was suspended under the floor. 19 men fell into this net earning them the membership in the ‘Half Way to Hell Club’.

It was due to the efforts of bridge engineer and builder, Joseph Strauss, that the bridge was built. Many opposed his plans, some for selfish reasons and others because they felt that the span to cross was too large. The total length of the bridge is 1.7 miles.

After securing a bond for 35 million dollars construction on the bridge began on January 5, 1933. The toll when it opened was 50 cents each way with a 5 cents surcharge for each passenger over three. On February 22, 1985 the one billionth car crossed the bridge, with the Toll being $2 southbound on Friday and Saturday, $1 other days. No northbound toll. Presently the toll is $6 or if using FasTrak $5 for two axle vehicles.


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