72 years ago today, iconic Golden Gate Bridge finished construction ahead of schedule & $1.3 million under budget
The iconic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, turned 72 years old on Wednesday. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful, and most photographed, bridges in the world. Its 4,200 foot long main suspension span was a world record that stood for 27 years. It is still the second longest in the United States after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which links Staten Island to Brooklyn in New York. The bridge's two towers rise 746 feet making them 191 feet taller than the Washington Monument.
Before the bridge was built, people used ferries to travel between San Francisco and Marin. Many wanted to build a bridge to connect San Francisco to Marin County. San Francisco was the largest American city still served primarily by ferry boats. Because it did not have a permanent link with communities around the bay, the city’s growth rate was below the national average. Many experts said that a bridge couldn’t be built across the 6,700 ft (2,042 m) strait. It had strong, swirling tides and currents, with water 500 ft (150 m) in depth at the center of the channel, and almost constant winds of 60 mph (97 km/h). Experts said that ferocious winds and blinding fogs would prevent construction and operation.
Joseph Baerman Strauss had a dream of building a bridge across the Golden Gate. Cincinnati born and trained with Chicago engineering experience, Joseph Strauss, was an ambitious but dreamy engineer and poet who had, for his graduate thesis, designed a 55-mile (89 km) long railroad bridge across the Bering Strait. At the time, Strauss had completed some 400 drawbridges - most of which were inland - and nothing on the scale of the new project. Strauss spent more than a decade drumming up support in Northern California. The bridge faced opposition, including litigation, from many sources.
Construction began on January 5, 1933, and was completed after more than four years at a cost of $35 million. The bridge opened to vehicular traffic on May 28, 1937 at twelve o'clock noon when President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in the White House announcing the event. The opening was ahead of schedule and $1.3 million under budget. The bridge-opening celebration lasted for one week. The day before vehicle traffic was allowed, 200,000 people crossed by foot and roller skate.
Despite its red appearance, the color of the bridge is officially an orange vermilion called international orange. The color was selected by consulting architect Irving Morrow because it blends well with the natural surroundings yet enhances the bridge's visibility in fog. The bridge is said to be one of the most beautiful examples of bridge engineering, both as a structural design challenge and for its aesthetic appeal. It was declared one of the modern Wonders of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Golden Gate Bridge has a similar sister bridge in Lisbon, Portugal. The red-painted Ponte 25 de Abril (25 April Bridge) has a total length of 2,278 m (7,470 ft) with a central span of 1,013 m (3,320 ft).
Photos courtesy of Wikipedia and Travel4California.com
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