Bridging the Past and the Present: A History of The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco
It took architects, engineers, visionaries, and their respective teams four years to build the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Often featured in film and on brochures, the bridge is three miles long. And it isn’t just the bridge that’s long—its history is as well.
Why was the Golden Gate Bridge Constructed?
Let’s go to back to the San Francisco of the early 1900s. You have the Bay Area that’s not connected by the bridge, but instead relies on a network of ferries for commute. San Francisco was just starting to become a megacity back then, and one of the requirements for being a megacity was great infrastructure.
Ferries made traveling difficult and time-consuming, and for a fast-paced megacity, something more “mega” was needed. Cut to the call for a bridge: and a bridge was built.
Construction of the Golden Gate
Proposals for a bridge over the channel had been pouring in since the 19th century. Many, however, believed the channel too big for a bridge to be built over it.
James Wilkins was an ex-engineering student whose 1916 proposal was eventually picked up. Joseph Strauss was the man who believed in the student’s proposal, and took it forward. It isn’t difficult to see why Strauss chose to give it a go—he was a poet as well as an engineer.
Facts about the Golden Gate Bridge
Construction began in 1933—before the Second World War.
An interesting fact is that the bridge was initially called Chrysopylae—US Army Captain John C Frémont had named it after a Turkish harbor, with Chrysopylae meaning Golden Horn.
Thankfully, they changed it to something easier to pronounce. When it was built, it was the longest bridge in the world. Eleven people died during construction—and nineteen more would have died had it not been for the “safety net” built around it.
When the bridge finally opened in 1937, nearly 200,000 people crossed it on foot.
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