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Golden Gate Bridge History and Facts


Arguably one of the world's most beautiful bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge is an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco. Over 45 million vehicles cross the bridge annually! Our Golden Gate webcam captures this beautiful scene from our offices in Pacific Heights and refreshes every 3 minutes during the day between 5:30 a.m. and Sunset. This is not the official Golden Gate Bridge Web Site Please follow this link for The Official Golden Gate Bridge site official web site

Structure and Construction
The Golden Gate required the tallest towers, the longest, thickest cables, and the largest underwater foundation piers ever built. The foundation piers had to be sunk in the violent, pounding waters of the open sea, something that was thought to be impossible. (San Franciscans love a challenge!) Today, the resulting bridge has clear span of 4600 feet, or about nine-tenths of a mile, providing a connection between San Francisco and the surrounding Northern Counties. The suspended towers reach 746 ft. upward and the channel clearance below is 220 ft. The roadway is supported by 36.5" diameter cables.

The original chief engineer, Joseph B. Strauss, designed a rather unsightly cantilever and suspension structure in 1916. Though attempt were made to refine the design, it wasn't until Consulting Architects Irving F. Morrow and his wife Gertrude C. Morrow stepped in that the current look and design were imagined and implemented. The bridge opened for traffic 1937.

Not everybody saw the value of building the Golden Gate Bridge. Yet, even during a time of unemployment and bread lines, support from the Bay Area counties was gained for a $35,000,000 construction bond issue. Gaining this support took nearly four times as long as the actual construction of the bridge. Over the years, corporate, private, and city monies have all played a role in maintaining the bridge.

The bridge is a lovely shade of "International Orange," or orange vermilion, not really gold. It was selected for the way it blends with the natural elements surrounding it. Bridge lore tells that the U.S. Navy wanted to paint it black with yellow stripes to be sure it was seen by passing ships!

Consulting Architect Morrow understood that uniform illumination would cast an artificial light on the elegant lines of the bridge. So, the bridge has less light at the top than the bottom, creating the illusion that the bridge soars upward and becomes one with the clouds (or fog). Though the original low pressure roadway lights were replaced with high pressure sodium vapor lamps in 1982, an original lamp can still be seen behind the Roundhous Gift Center just east of the Toll Plaza.
Fog Horns
The original horns were two-toned warnings to ships, as well as residents, of fog conditions. In 1985, these unique horns sounded their last. Replacement parts were no longer available so single-toned horns, all differing in frequency from one another, were installed. Each horn has a distinctive pitch to communicate a different message. Vessel operators heading into the Bay steer left of the south pier horn and right of the mid-span horn. Outbound vessels stay to the right of the mid-span horn. The fog horns operate roughly two and a half hours a day. In March, one of San Francisco's clearest months, you'll hear them less, but from July through October, you can expect to hear them as much as five hours a day.

Bridge tolls began at the modest sum of $0.50 each way, with a five cent charge for more than 3 passengers. In 1950, the fare dropped to $0.40 and by 1955, it was $0.25 each way! But in 1968, a southbound toll of $0.50 was instituted, with the northbound trip free of charge. Today, that southbound trip is $3.00.

More Information
If you want more information visit official web site for the internationally recognized Golden Gate Bridge. There is a wealth of information about this modern wonder of the world available here.

All Photos copyright Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. All Rights Reserved - Used with Permission.

Opening Day, May 28, 1937
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. All Rights Reserved - Used with Permission.


Graceful steel over Fort Point

Painting atop the 746-foot tall South tower
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. All Rights Reserved - Used with Permission.


Bridge roadway being assembled in sections and attached to suspender ropes
Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. All Rights Reserved - Used with Permission.


Walkway view from San Francisco

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