Golden Gate Bridge

As with most of the world’s wonders, many said that the Golden Gate Bridge could never be built - the span was too wide, the ocean too powerful and deep, and the cost too great. But to many more, the Golden Gate, the name John Fremont gave the splendid strait in 1844, demanded the realization of its dream bridge.

In 1872, railroad tycoon Charles Crocker first conceived the idea, but it took a visionary engineer, Joseph Strauss, to put forth a realistic proposal in 1921. After 10 years of opposition from all quarters, funding was finally secured from A.P. Giannini, founder of the Bank of America. The bridge opened in 1937 and has been an emblem of San Francisco and America’s icon on the Pacific ever since.

The bridge owes its striking style to the consulting architects Irving F. Morrow and his wife Gertrude. They simplified the pedestrian railings to uniform posts placed far enough apart to allow an unobstructed view. Repairing and painting the bridge is an ongoing task. The paint protects it from the high salt content in the air, which corrodes the steel components.

The Golden Gate Bridge is the number one spot in the world for suicides. As yet there are no effective preventative barriers but there are bars (above) for general safety.

As the only road to exit San Francisco to the north, the bridge is part of both U.S. Route 101 and California Route 1. The median markers between the lanes are moved to conform to traffic patterns. On weekday mornings, traffic flows mostly southbound into the city, so four of the six lanes run southbound. Conversely, on weekday afternoons, four lanes run northbound. Although there has been discussion concerning the installation of a movable barrier since the 1980s, the Bridge Board of Directors, in March 2005, committed to finding funding to complete the $2 million study required prior to the installation of a movable median barrier. The eastern walkway is for pedestrians and bicycles during the weekdays and during daylight hours only (6:30 am to 3:30 pm), and the western walkway is open to bicyclists on weekday afternoons (after 3:30 pm), weekends, and holidays (3:30 pm to 6:30 am). The speed limit on the Golden Gate Bridge was reduced from 55 mph (89 km/h) to 45 mph (72 km/h) on 1 October 1996.