One of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States, the Golden Gate Bridge spans almost two miles to link the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County. It is, possibly the most beautiful and certainly the most photographed bridge in the world and has been recognized as one of the engineering marvels. The Golden Gate Bridge gets its name as it spans what is called the Golden Gate Strait.
Before the construction of the bridge, people had no other way but to cross a section of the San Francisco Bay by ferry boats. Though many wanted to build a bridge to connect San Francisco to Marin County, a section of experts opposed the idea and opined that a bridge could not be built across the 6,700 ft (2,042 m) strait, which is 372 ft (113 m) deep at the center of the channel and has strong, swirling tides and currents, Experts also said that, blinding fogs and fierce winds and blinding fogs would prevent construction and operation.
In June 1921, Joseph Strauss, a Chicago-based engineer submitted his sketches for a cantilever-suspension hybrid span in June 1921. He believed that he could complete the grand-scale project for a modest $25 to $30 million. However, the project met fierce resistance, including litigation from an array of business and civic leaders. The Department of War apprehended that the bridge would interfere with ship traffic. The navy was also worried, since a ship collision or sabotage to the bridge could block the entrance to one of its main harbors. It was also argued that the proposed bridge would mar the natural beauty of the bay and it would not survive a temblor like the San Francisco Earthquake, which crippled the city in 1906.
In the meantime, Strauss’s talented team completed shaping the famed design of the bridge. Leon S. Moisseiff submitted his plan, scrapping the original hybrid design in favor of a suspension span capable of moving more than two feet laterally to withstand strong winds. Irving F. Morrow conceived the art deco towers, and later decided on a paint colour he dubbed “International Orange.”
The Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District, the official entity to design, construct, and finance the Golden Gate Bridge, was incorporated in 1928. However, due to the Great Depression of 1929, the District could not sell the bonds to raise the construction funds. Finally, Strauss personally sought help from Bank of America President Amadeo Gianini, who agreed to buy $6 million in bonds in 1932.
The construction of the magnificent bridge commenced on 4 January 1033, with the excavation of 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt, for the foundation of the anchorages. At one stage, divers plunged to depths of 90 feet through strong currents to blast away rock and remove detonation debris. Despite the hazardous conditions faced by the crew, there was just one casualty through four years. Nevertheless, on one occasion the supporting net had saved 19 workers from plunging deep into the strait. The survivors of the said incident were termed to be members of the ‘Halfway to Hell Club.’ Unfortunately, the near-spotless safety record was blemished when in February 1937, a scaffold fell and ripped through the net, resulting in the deaths of 10 workers.
The Golden Gate Bridge, a marvel of modern engineering, is 1.7 miles long and 90 feet wide. The towers of the bridge were completed in June 1935, the roadway was completed on 19 April 1937 and the bridge officially opened to pedestrians on May 27 of that year. It withstood the destructive Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989, and only three times in its first 75 years, was closed to traffic due to rough weather conditions. As the bridge became infamous as the second-most used suicide bridge in the world, after years of debate and over an estimated 1,500 deaths, suicide barriers began to be installed in April 2017. Construction will take approximately four years at a cost of over $200 million.