As California continued to expand in the early twentieth century, people began to realize the necessity for a bridge that would connect the peninsula of San Francisco with the southern end of Marin County. Up until that time, ferry boats were the only means by which to make that trip. On any given day, a panoply of vessels could be seen transporting passengers to and from both locations.
There was some opposition however, to the construction of a bridge. For example: the Navy was concerned that a bridge would interfere with the passage of their ships and the Southern Pacific Railroad, who ran the ferry boats, would not welcome the competition. And many experts believed it was simply not possible to overcome all the obstacles (distance, wind, current etc.) presented by such a project. There was also the matter of financing. Planning began sometime in 1916, but actual construction did not begin until 1933. By then, America was in the middle of the Great Depression. Financing was ultimately generated by the sale of bonds.
Joseph Strauss was chosen as the chief engineer for the project. Strauss and Michael M O'Shaughnessy, San Francisco's city engineer, concluded that the bridge could be built at a cost of $25-$30 million dollars. Construction on the massive and unprecedented project began in January 1933 and was completed in May of 1937.
The Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles long and 90 feet wide. The center span is 4,200 feet long. At its highest point, the bridge deck is 220 feet above the water. The towers rise 746 feet above the surface of the water and 500 feet above the roadway. The main cables that support the bridge deck are 7,260 feet long and more than 3 feet in diameter. The bridge was painted its distinctive orange vermillion to help it blend in with its surroundings. Eleven men, 10 in a single incident, lost their lives during the construction.
The Golden Gate Bridge has become an iconic presence not only in the United States, but across the globe as well, and is yet another example of American ingenuity, knowhow and ability to accomplish the extraordinary!