Golden Gate Bridge Facts
- Official Name: Golden Gate Bridge
- Location: San Francisco, Marin County, California
- Coordinates: 37°49′11″N 122°28′43″W
- Length: 8,981 ft (about 1.7 mi)
- Width: 90 ft
- Height: 746 ft
- Longest span: 4,200 ft
- Construction: Started on January 5, 1933
- Construction: Ended on April 19, 1937
- Opened: May 27, 1937
- History: The Idea for the Golden Gate Bridge Came Long Before Construction Started
- History: The Initial Design Was Significantly Different from the End Result
- History: Not Everyone Was Happy about the Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge
- Color: The Golden Gate Bridge Isn’t Actually Golden
- Color: The Color of the Golden Bridge Is Known as International Orange
- History: The Golden Gate Bridge Has Only Been Closed a Few Times
- Statistics: Around 110,000 Vehicles Cross the Golden Gate Bridge Every Day
- Construction: The Construction of the Bridge Had an Impressive Safety Record for the Time
- Deaths: 11 Men Died during the Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge
- Deaths: The Golden Gate Bridge Is Famous as a Suicide Location
- The Golden Gate Bridge Has 6 Lanes Which Are Reversible
- The Golden Gate Bridge Once Had the Longest Suspension Span in the World
- The Golden Gate Bridge Is Continuously Repainted
- The Golden Gate Bridge Was the First Major Bridge with One-Way Toll Collection
- Car Pool Lanes on Golden Gate Bridge Require 3 or More Passengers
- The Golden Gate Bridge Does Play a Part in the Bay Area’s Infamous Fog
- The Golden Gate Bridge Has Been Featured in a Number of Movies
- Portugal’s Capital Has a Bridge Very Similar to the Golden Gate Bridge
- The Golden Gate Bridge Has Witnessed Some Bizarre Things in Its History
- Believe It or Not, the Golden Gate Bridge Should Actually Have Been Painted with Stripes
The Idea for the Golden Gate Bridge Came Long Before Construction Started
Golden Gate Bridge facts reveal that the idea for the bridge was presented long before the bridge was actually built. It was first proposed as early as 1872, when the famous railroad executive Charles Crocker, who had previously completed the transcontinental railroad three years earlier, presented the plan for the bridge to the Marin County Board of Supervisors. However, many believed that this kind of bridge was not a realistic possibility, so the project was not given much thought. It was not until 1919 that the construction of the bridge was seriously considered. At that time, the city of San Francisco had the city’s engineer Michael O’Shaughnessy undertake a study that would help determine whether building a bridge was indeed possible. Initially, it was estimated that the construction of the bridge would cost around $100 million.
The Initial Design Was Significantly Different from the End Result
A year after completing his feasibility study, Michael O’Shaughnessy sent letters to three of the most important engineers of the time and asked to speak to them about the construction of the bridge. Joseph B. Strauss, Francis C. McMath and Gustav Lindenthal were the chosen ones, and it was Strauss who later became the main engineer behind the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. Golden Gate Bridge facts show that he initially submitted plans for a symmetrical cantilever-suspension hybrid span, which he believed he would be able to build for a sum between $17 million and $27 million.
The actual plans for the bridge remained a secret to the public for a very long time; however, once they were revealed a year later, the public was far from pleased. The bridge was called ugly, ponderous and blunt by commentators, and Strauss was eventually forced to change his plans. He changed his design to a more conventional suspension bridge, which apparently was not as unpopular as his first version.
Not Everyone Was Happy about the Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge
Even though Strauss changed the design of his bridge to suit the wishes of the public, Golden Gate Bridge facts show that not everyone was satisfied. The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge had some fierce enemies; in 1930, as many as 2,300 lawsuits were filed against the bridge. One of them was filed by the Southern Pacific Railroad, the company that owned 51% of the ferry company taking commuters and their cars between San Francisco and Marin County, which was understandably concerned about losing its business. Then there were Ansel Adams and the Sierra Club, who opposed the construction of the bridge because they were worried that it would destroy the natural beauty of the area.
In the end, it took a couple of favorable court rulings, two federal hearings, a guarantee that local workers would be hired first, a complete boycott of the ferry services and enabling an act from the state legislature to finally get the bridge approved. All this of course took a lot of time, which was the main reason why the construction started so much later after the initial planning took place.
The Golden Gate Bridge Isn’t Actually Golden
One of the most interesting Golden Gate Bridge facts is the fact that, despite its name, the bridge is not actually golden. The name of the bridge really refers to the famous entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, called the Golden Gate Strait. The strait is about three miles long and about one mile wide, and has currents ranging from 4.5 to 7.5 knots. The name was first given by an army captain John C. Fremont, probably in 1846 or around that time. He called the strait “Chrysopylae” or Golden Gate, because it reminded him of a similar harbor in Istanbul, Turkey, called Chrysoceras or the Golden Horn.
The Color of the Golden Bridge Is Known as International Orange
We have already established that the Golden Gate Bridge is not golden, but Golden Gate Bridge facts reveal that there is actually a very special name for the color of the bridge. It is called international orange, and it was chosen by a consulting architect named Irving Morrow for several reasons. He rejected both carbon black and steel gray, which seem like the logical choices for a bridge, and went with a distinctive shade of orange instead. One of the reasons was that the color blends well with the natural setting of the bridge, and another reason was that the lively color provides sufficient visibility of the bridge for passing ships.
If you want to paint something at home with international orange, you can. A paint store can mix it for you with CMYK colors, which are: C = Cyan: 0%, M = Magenta: 69%, Y = Yellow: 100%, K = Black: 6%. If you want to buy an existing color combination, the closest ones are PMS 173 (CYMK = 0%, 80%, 94%, 1%), PMS 174 (CYMK = 8%, 85%, 100%, 34%) and Pantone 180 (CYMK = 19.4%, 77.9%, 79.6% 3.6%).
The Golden Gate Bridge Has Only Been Closed a Few Times
The Golden Gate Bridge is very strong and durable, so it is no wonder that only a few events throughout its history have managed to bring it down. Golden Gate Bridge facts show that the bridge has only closed three times due to the weather; each time, it was high winds that persuaded officials to close the bridge down. The first time it happened, on December 1, 1951, the winds reached speeds of 69 miles per hour, which closed the bridge for about three hours. The second closure was more than 30 years later, on December 23, 1982, when high winds of up to 70 miles per hour caused an almost two-hours’ long closure of the bridge. And the last time the Golden Gate Bridge was closed (as of 2015) due to the weather was on December 3, 1983, when wind gusts reached a speed of 75 miles per hour; this was the longest weather-related closure of the bridge in history and it lasted for 3 hours and 27 minutes.
The Golden Gate Bridge has also closed on several other occasions: for 1 hour and 20 minutes on July 13, 1975 due to construction work; on May 24, 1987 from 5 am to 11 am for the 50th Anniversary Pedestrian Walk, on May 27, 2012, from 9 pm to 10:01 pm for the 75th Anniversary fireworks display, and very briefly on two separate occasions for the visits of president Franklin D. Roosevelt and French president Charles de Gaulle.
Around 110,000 Vehicles Cross the Golden Gate Bridge Every Day
We can easily imagine that the Golden Gate Bridge is crossed by a large number of vehicles every single day, but Golden Gate Bridge facts reveal just how high the number really is. Statistics show that the bridge is crossed by 110,000 vehicles every single day, and it has been crossed by 2,025,883,491 vehicles since its opening to traffic on May 28, 1937 (as of January 2014).
Even though the Golden Gate Bridge is very busy at all times, there have been times when the bridge traffic has been significantly higher or lower than usually. The lowest vehicle count took place on Monday, January 4, 1982. On that day, a devastating storm struck the Bay Area, and earth slides and flooding covered the area north of the bridge. When the weather cleared up two days later, only 3,921 southbound vehicles crossed the bridge. This is very little compared to the current daily average, and it was little even by that time’s standards, when the average daily southbound count was 37,936.
On the other hand, the highest ever number of vehicles to cross the bridge can be blamed on an earthquake. On October 17, 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake shook the Bay Area with tremors measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale. Unlike the San Francisco/Oakland Bay Bridge that could not handle the pressure, the Golden Gate Bridge remained undamaged and was the main line of commute with an all-time record of 162,414 vehicles crossing the bridge that day.
The Construction of the Bridge Had an Impressive Safety Record for the Time
Construction, especially the construction of bridges, is not the safest industry in the world, and the dangers were even greater decades ago when security measures were not as strict and efficient as they are today. However, Golden Gate Bridge facts show that the construction of the bridge was managed with a high concern for the safety of everyone working on this majestic architectural miracle.
In the 1930s, when the Golden Gate Bridge was being built, the rule of thumb for high-steel bridge construction projects was one fatality for every $1 million in cost. However, Strauss was determined to beat the statistics. He made the construction site of the Golden Gate Bridge the first site in the United States that required all workers to wear hard hats and glare-free goggles at all times, which significantly improved their safety. Workers also had to use hand and face cream to protect their skin from the harsh winds, and they even had to go on a special diet, which was supposed to prevent dizziness. Apart from that, a whopping $130,000 was invested in an innovative safety net, which was suspended under the bridge in order to catch any workers who might fall off the bridge. The net managed to save lives of 19 men who would have otherwise fallen into the ocean and lost their lives. These men became known as the Halfway-to-Hell Club.
11 Men Died during the Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge
Despite all the security precautions taken by Strauss, accidents still happened and Golden Gate Bridge facts reveal the sad truth that 11 men died during the construction of the bridge. Everything started off great and the Golden Gate Bridge took no lives for most of its construction time. Just a couple of months before the end of the construction, however, one of the workers, a man named Kermit Moore, was killed by a falling derrick.
Only a couple of weeks later tragedy struck again; this time, it was 10 workers who lost their lives. A 5-ton work platform had broken apart from the bridge and fell. It fell right through the net, taking 12 workers with it and plunging into the water 220 feet below. Although 10 workers were killed, two managed to survive the accident, albeit with a number of broken bones.
The Golden Gate Bridge Is Famous as a Suicide Location
While the Golden Gate Bridge is a popular tourist attraction, Golden Gate Bridge facts reveal a sad truth: it is also the top suicide location in the world. The first person to commit suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge was a man named H.B. Wobber, who threw himself off the side of the bridge, just three months after the bridge was opened. He hit the surface of San Francisco Bay at 75 miles per hour just four seconds after jumping, and died as a result.
Since then, more than 1,500 people have committed suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge. This means that one person decides to end their live on Golden Gate Bridge every three weeks on average. Most of them die, but more than 40 jumpers actually survived the jump – against all odds. The authorities are doing everything in their power to prevent or at least decrease the number of suicides: there are 11 crisis counseling phones along the bridge and there is a plan to build a net under the bridge to catch the jumpers before they hit the ocean.
The Golden Gate Bridge Has 6 Lanes Which Are Reversible
Reversible lanes are an interesting innovation and they were first used on the Golden Gate Bridge on October 29, 1963. The problem with the Golden Gate Bridge is that its traffic fluctuates greatly; while during the morning commute most of the vehicles are travelling southbound, the afternoon commute is another story.
The six reversible lanes of the Golden Gate Bridge are therefore adjusted according to the volume of traffic heading either way. In the morning, four of the lanes are going southbound to San Francisco and two of them are headed northbound. During the afternoon commute, there are three lanes going both ways. Lanes are also adjusted during weekend tourist periods, which greatly helps to reduce traffic jams and congestion.
The Golden Gate Bridge Once Had the Longest Suspension Span in the World
When it was built, the Golden Gate Bridge was the bridge with the longest suspension span in the world. With a 4,200 feet long suspension it held the record until November 21, 1964, when New York City’s Verrazano Narrows Bridge was opened. It was 60 feet longer than the Golden Gate Bridge and remained the longest suspension bridge until July 17, 1981. On that day, Humber Bridge in England was opened, boasting a span of 4,626 feet.
Nowadays, Golden Gate Bridge facts show that the once longest bridge is currently ranked as the ninth-longest suspension bridge in history. Apart from the bridges in New York and England, many other longer bridges have since been built, including the Great Belt East Bridge in Denmark (5,328 feet) and the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan (6,532 feet).
The Golden Gate Bridge Is Continuously Repainted
One of the most famous myths says that the bridge is repainted from end to end every year, but Golden Gate Bridge facts reveal that this is not the case. Painting this magnificent bridge is actually an ongoing task, as paint is needed to protect the bridge from the high salt content in the air, which could damage the bridge by rusting and corroding its steel components.
Regardless of the fact that the Golden Gate Bridge is not completely repainted end to end every year, a whopping 5,000 – 10,000 gallons of paint are still used to repaint sections of the magnificent bridge each year.
The Golden Gate Bridge Was the First Major Bridge with One-Way Toll Collection
If you ever want to cross the Golden Gate Bridge and are travelling on a tight budget, crossing it northbound would be the way to go. Golden Gate Bridge facts reveal that the toll is only collected from vehicles travelling southbound, into the city of San Francisco. This is a very innovative system that started on October 19, 1968, when the Golden Gate Bridge became the first major bridge in the world to offer one-way toll collection. The one-way toll collection system proved to be a big success, and has since been used on many major bridges all around the world.
However, if you still want to cross the bridge travelling southbound, you would currently have to pay $7.00 with the Pay by Plate system, $6.00 on the FasTrak, and $4.00 on carpools during peak travel hours.
Car Pool Lanes on Golden Gate Bridge Require 3 or More Passengers
The majority of carpool lanes require at least two people in the vehicle, but the Golden Gate Bridge is a bit stricter regarding this. In order to drive on the carpool lane across the Golden Gate Bridge, at least three people have to be present in the vehicle. This policy was introduced in April 1976, and the main reason behind the change was to ease the traffic congestion of the bridge.
However, the Golden Gate Bridge carpool lane offers more than just a special lane; it also enables the passengers to pay a discounted toll during peak hours, on weekdays from 5 am to 9 am and from 4 pm to 6 pm.
The Golden Gate Bridge Does Play a Part in the Bay Area’s Infamous Fog
San Francisco and the entire Bay Area is well known for its infamous fog, charmingly nicknamed Karl the Fog. However, Golden Gate Bridge facts reveal that the bridge itself may actually play quite a significant role when it comes to the formation of the fog over the Bay Area. When advection fog, which is the consequence of humid Pacific air running into the chilly California current, forms near the coastline, the bridge directs it; it pushes it up and pours it down over the bridge. The bridge itself, however, is not afraid of the fog: the international orange color makes it very visible in fog.
The Golden Gate Bridge Has Been Featured in a Number of Movies
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world and it has also played a part in many famous movies. The most popular ones include Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Star Trek (2009), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), The Rock (1996), Interview with a Vampire (1994), Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), A View to a Kill (1985), Superman (1978) and The Maltese Falcon (1941).
Portugal’s Capital Has a Bridge Very Similar to the Golden Gate Bridge
If you ever find yourself in Lisbon and run into a certain bridge, you could easily imagine that you have ended up in San Francisco – the famous 25 de Abril Bridge (“25th of April Bridge”) in the capital of Portugal looks surprisingly like the Golden Gate Bridge. It is also a suspension bridge, and it connects the city of Lisbon with the municipality of Almada on the left bank of the Tejo River.
The bridge was opened on August 6, 1966 and it is currently the 20th largest suspension bridge in the world. And why is it so similar to the Golden Gate Bridge? Because it is painted with the same color as the Golden Gate Bridge: international orange. Another fun Golden Gate Bridge fact reveals that the 25th of April Bridge was built by the same company that built the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge – but not the Golden Gate Bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge Has Witnessed Some Bizarre Things in Its History
The Golden Gate Bridge has a long and very interesting history, and many stunning and sometimes bizarre things have happened on it. For example, three babies have been born on the Golden Gate Bridge, and Golden Gate Bridge facts reveal that all three of them were boys. However, considering the number of people who have crossed the bridge up until now, the number of births on it may seem on the low side. The year of 1985 saw the bridge being crossed by its one billionth driver. His name was Dr. Arthur Molinari, a dentist, and he was presented with a hardhat and a case of champagne to celebrate the milestone in the bridge’s history.
The construction of the bridge itself is another interesting mystery in itself. Did you know that the Golden Gate Bridge is actually getting lighter? When it was opened in 1937, it weighed 894,500 tons; however, after a re-decking in 1986, it only weighed 887,000 tons. And re-decking probably wasn’t such a bad idea, considering what happened the next year. It was the 50th anniversary of the bridge, and the officials expected up to 50,000 people to attend the celebrations. However, 800,000 showed up for the anniversary, which caused the bridge to virtually flatten out – the whole arch of the bridge simply disappeared. But there was no reason to worry – the bridge was built to survive far more stress than that.
Believe It or Not, the Golden Gate Bridge Should Actually Have Been Painted with Stripes
The vivid orange color of the Golden Gate Bridge has become iconic, but history nearly went another way. The US military, who initially objected to the whole idea of the Golden Gate Bridge, had completely different color preferences. They were worried that Navy ships could get caught in San Francisco if the bridge was ever bombed or collapsed. Eventually, the army gave their approval, but they requested the bridge to be painted with garish stripes.
The Navy, on the other hand, was more concerned about the visibility of the bridge for ships passing in foggy conditions, so they asked for the bridge to be painted with black and yellow stripes. Even the Army Air Corps had a color scheme of their own in mind: they wanted to paint the Golden Gate Bridge with a festive candy-cane combination of red and white stripes, which would make the bridge more noticeable from the air.
Golden Gate Bridge Facts — Facts about the Golden Gate Bridge Summary
The Golden Gate Bridge is located in San Francisco, Marin County, California. It is about 1.7 miles long, 90 feet wide and 746 feet high. Its longest span measures 4200 feet, which made it the longest suspension bridge at the time of construction; it is currently the 9th longest suspension bridge in the world. Its construction started on January 5, 1933, ended on April 19, 1937, and the bridge was finally opened on May 27, 1937. Regardless of its name, the Golden Gate Bridge is not actually golden; its color is known under the name international orange.