It was once known as “the bridge that couldn’t be built” and its proposed construction was met with fierce opposition. Thankfully, the Golden Gate was bridged and the result is a majestic piece of architecture. You can see the iconic red of the bridge from lots of different places in San Francisco, but my favourite was from Baker Beach as the sun set. Today the Golden Gate Bridge is taken for granted, but that wasn’t always the case.
Its many early opponents claimed it would destroy the natural beauty of San Francisco Bay, others believed that it wouldn’t survive an earthquake similar to the one that flattened San Francisco in 1906. The people who worked the ferry that existed before the bridge probably weren’t too pleased either.
Despite this, the momentum to span the Golden Gate and connect the city with its northern peninsula continued to build. In 1919, the tender to design a bridge was won by a Chicago-based engineer, Joseph Strauss. Strauss was a man capable of dreaming big, in fact he’d already made designs for a 55-mile long bridge across the Baring Straight to connect Alaska with Russia.
At a mile wide, the Golden Gate was a less daunting prospect and Strauss promised to build the bridge to a budget of $35 million. For over a decade progress was mired in litigation and opposition, but the drive to build became overwhelming during the Depression of the 1930s.
On January 5th, 1933, construction of the monumental Golden Gate Bridge finally began. The excavation of 3.25 million cubic feet of earth necessary to support the twin towers that stretch 746 feet into the air, employed thousands made redundant in the Depression. The two cables that support the road below are 7,000 feet in length and contain 80,000 miles of wire. 1.2 million steel rivets hold all the pieces of the bridge together.
The designs for the graceful suspension bridge that emerged after four years of construction was the work of many hands, and have stood the test of time. Since then the bridge has won many accolades, none less than the fact that in its first 75-years of operation it only closed three times due to bad weather.
Today it’s considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, it’s one of the most recognisable buildings on the planet, and is a truly awe inspiring sight viewed from far away or close up. It does hold some less fortunate accolades, including as a popular site for suicides.
As for the iconic red colour … it’s officially an orange vermillion known as International Orange. It’s supposed to aid visibility for shipping in poor weather conditions. A team of 38 painters maintain the bridge’s paintwork.
7 thoughts on “Icon in Red, a homage to the Golden Gate Bridge”
haha! We keep crossing path. We were there last July. Walked the entire bridge in the thickest fog… I barely managed to identify the red paint. 😉
You were lucky.
Ha, that must be a strange feeling, Brian, like walking through a cloud. You see the photos of just the tops of pillars poking out of the fog, I’d quite like to see it like that.
Absolutely walking in a cloud. I’ve downloaded all my SF pictures, Need to sort them. Including Lori’s diner. I felt like stepping into the Twilight zone, with the waitress with curlers in her hair, a fag dangling from her mouth asking “More coffee, honey?” I will post the fog walk across the bridge soon.
It’s like every American movie I’ve ever seen featuring a diner, perhaps a little more ‘glitzy’ than most but a great experience. I didn’t realise, but apparently there’s a Lori’s in the airport as well. Can’t wait to see the photos Brian.
Working on it… Have a great week-end. (When are you going to Paris? September?)
Mid-September, Brian. Staying in the Marais, which I have fond memories of from my last visit many years ago. Any tips welcome. Hope all’s well? Paul
Al is well thank you. The Marais has changed a lot. And nicely. I mean anywhere in Paris. I’ll send you tips before you leave for Paris. How long will you stay?