Finally, a blog post about one of the most recognized symbols of San Francisco, or probably the United States: the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s possibly the most photographed bridge in the world according to some travel guides – and indeed, its appearance is quite impressive.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Before the bridge was built, the only way to reach the area north of San Francisco was by boat and the first ferry services started in early 1820.
Many wanted to build a bridge to have a permanent link from the communities outside San Francisco but experts said that would not be possible due to the strait’s width (6,700 ft / 2.042 m), the water’s depth and the strong currents. Nevertheless, constructions began in 1933 and Joseph Strauss, an ambitious engineer, was chief engineer in charge of overall design and construction of the bridge project. Since he had little understanding or experience with cable-suspension designs, he needed input from several consulting project experts. The final design was conceived Leon Moisseiff (designer of the New York’s Manhattan Bridge) and Charles Alton Ellis. Irving Morrow designed the overall shape of the bridge towers, the lighting scheme and the Art Deco elements.
Fun fact aside: The US Navy wanted the bridge to be painted in black with yellow stripes to ensure better visibility by passing ships. It’s current and famous orange color was originally used as a sealant for the bridge.
The bridge was finished and opened in May 1937, its costs were more than $35 millions and during its construction, 21 men were killed from falls. The design and structure of the Golden Gate Bridge is still amazing: The weight of the roadway is hung from two cables that pass through the two main towers and are fixed at each end. Each cable is made of 27.572 strands of wire, and there are 80,000 miles (130.000 km) of wire in the main cables. In total, the bridge has approximately 1.200.000 rivets!
Until 1964, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world with 4,200 feet (1,300 m). Its towers (46 ft /227 m above the water) were the world’s tallest on a suspension bridge until 1998 when bridges in Denmark and Japan were completed.
If you want to drive over the bridge these days, you shouldn’t be in a hurry. Depending on week-day and time, it’s possible that there is a lot of traffic going on and you can stuck there for a long time. If you want, you can also walk or cycle over the bridge. On the opposite side, you’ll find the spot for the perfect city panorama: Lands End and its sea cliffs, Presidio, the whole Marina District and further east to the Financial District including its skyscraper and the Oakland Bay Bridge. Of course, you can spot Alcatraz and Treasure Island as well.
If you continue your drive further north, you are going to reach Sausalito – a small and picturesque city, and the perfect getaway on a sunny weekend. The city center with its charming restaurants and shops is build along the waterfront, so you can enjoy the great view from nearly everywhere. I really enjoyed strolling through the historic streets and the harbor there.