The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States.
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. San Francisco’s City Engineer estimated the cost at $100 million, which would have been $2.12 billion in 2009 and impractical for the time.
He asked bridge engineers whether it could be built for less. One who responded, Joseph Strauss, was an ambitious engineer and poet who had, for his graduate thesis, designed a 55-mile-long (89 km) 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. In May 1924, Colonel Herbert Deakyne held the second hearing on the Bridge on behalf of the Secretary of War in a request to use federal land for construction.
Deakyne, on behalf of the Secretary of War, approved the transfer of land needed for the bridge structure and leading roads to the “Bridging the Golden Gate Association” and both San Francisco County and Marin County, pending further bridge plans by Strauss.
Although the idea went back as far as 1869, the proposal took root in 1916. A former engineering student, James Wilkins, working as a journalist with the San Francisco Bulletin, called for a suspension bridge with a center span of 3,000 feet, nearly twice the length of any in existence.
So, San Francisco’s city engineer, Michael M. O’Shaughnessy he’s also credited with coming up with the name Golden Gate Bridge.
The construction of what was to become the world’s largest suspension bridge was a colossal task. At the time many people did not believe it was technically possible to span the Golden Gate. It would take thousands of workers, four years and 35 million dollars to complete the structure.
On May 27, 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge was inaugurated by 18.000 people who walked across the bridge. The eye catching orange-red color of the bridge also helped its popularity.
The Golden Gate Bridge is located at the Presidio Park and can easily be reached by bus or car. The most pleasant way to reach the bridge however is by walking either from the Marina District to the east or from Baker Beach to the west of the bridge.
During the bridge work, the Assistant Civil Engineer of California Alfred Finnila had overseen the entire iron work of the bridge as well as half of the bridge’s road work. With the death of Jack Balestreri in April 2012, all workers involved in the original construction are now deceased.