How many of you have walked across the Golden Gate Bridge? Better yet, how many of you have bicycled across the bridge? I have done both, on numerous occasions. It is a great thrill every time, as the conditions are always different. The weather can range from typical San Francisco fog, or a pristine clear and sunny day (and everything in between).
The bride opened in 1937. The cost was $35 million or $523 million in today’s dollars. My first time, crossing the bridge by car, was in the 50s. Our bridge toll was 50 cents. Today, the cost is $9.05. Forty million cars cross the bridge each year. It translates to $145 million in revenue, to pay for employees, maintenance and paint.
The bridge is not golden, but rather international orange, creating the illusion that the bridge is bigger. The color also helps improve the bridge’s visibility in the fog.
Eleven men lost their lives during construction, with another nineteen saved by the safety net. More than 1800 people have jumped off the bridge, with only a very few surviving.
Each cable is 3 feet in diameter and consists of 27,572 wires in each cable. The cables were so heavy, they had to be spun on site, over a period of six months.
The 50th Anniversary of the bridge was remarkable, for several reasons. One, officials expected 50,000 people, but 800,000 showed up. Two, the huge crowd actually flattened the arch of the bridge. But the bridge was designed to move 15 feet vertically, and 27 feet sideways. On windy days, it is possible to see the bridge sway! The bridge weighs 840 million tons.
The two bridge towers are 740 feet high. On a Newstalk radio show, several callers claimed to have shimmied their way out to the towers from either end. Likewise, many claimed to have done the same when the Bay Bridge was built.
Some funny facts: Horses are not allowed on the bridge. The bridge has been destroyed in movies12 times! The bridge has only been closed only 8 times.
In the words of the legendary SF Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, “The mystical structure, with its perfect amalgam of delicacy and power, exerts an uncanny effect. Its efficiency cannot conceal the artistry. There is heart there, and soul…”
If you have never crossed, by car, foot, or bicycle, I strongly suggest doing all three!!!