When the Golden Gate Bridge was built in 1937 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It remains the symbol of San Francisco. Today, it is the second longest suspension bridge in the United States and the ninth longest in the world. We believe that it might not be the longest, but it certainly is the most beautiful bridge.
Construction of the bridge was a big deal. Lots of people said that there was no way the bridge could be build. High school debate teams argued about it. Not only would it have to be longer than any other suspension bridge, but the winds were strong. The Department of War worried that the bridge would interfere with ship traffic in the area. There were a lot of design issues to deal with and a lot of red tape to swim through. Construction started in 1933 and it took over four years to complete. The cost was a little more than $30 million.
San Francisco is a city that loves to party. And, when the bridge opened, there was a celebration. 200,000 people crossed the bridge together on foot and on roller skates before cars were allowed to cross. Celebrations continued in the city for several weeks following this event.
The bridge was built because it was necessary to create a link between then North Bay and the city. The only way to get between the two areas was by ferry. The ferry still runs, but most people find it more practical to travel across the bridge. Before the bridge was built, San Francisco’s national growth rate was smaller than average because it was inconvenient to get in and out of the city. The bridge succeeded in helping the city grow. (For better or for worse.)
Many people want to know why the bridge is red. Technically it’s not red, it’s a color of orange vermillion called International Orange. This color was selected because one of the original architects felt that it was the color that best enhanced the visibility of the bridge in the fog. By the way, the passage into the Bay was called the Golden Gate, long before the bridge was built.
Take a walk on the sidewalk across the bridge. Stunning!