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San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge at Night

San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge

Written by Scott Messmore
The Golden Gate bridge is simply a technological marvel.

It took nearly ten years to build and even though the bridge builders set records for safety, men died creating the orange goliath. On one day alone, February 17, 1937, 10 men fell to their deaths when a scaffold broke

off of the bridge and plunged through the safety net. A special group of men called the "half-way-to-hell club" had been saved by a net hung underneath the bridge. Nineteen men fell into the new innovation for worker safety. Standing 220 feet off of the water, the Gate is used by 41 million drivers and passengers each year. Since it opened to traffic in 1937, roughly 1.6 billion people have used the 1.7 mile long span. The highest point of the bridge is 746 feet and some of the foundations are 110 feet under water.

San Franciscan's Approve $30 Million During the Great Depression

The idea to
San Francisco in the background of Golden Gate Bridge
cross the Golden Gate strait was originated as early as 1872 by a railroad magnate. Not until 1916 was a serious attempt made to make the crossing. Bridge designer Joseph Strauss felt he could cross the Gate with a huge suspension bridge and do it for under $30 million dollars. In 1921, Strauss finalized a plan and set out to convince San Francisco citizens and leaders that it could, and should, be done.

Legislature and War Department Approve Plan for Golden Gate

The California Legislature formed the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District in 1923 which allowed the bridge builders to borrow money, issue bonds and collect tolls from travelers. The future of the bridge was actually in the hands of the U.S. War Department in Washington D.C. The War Department had full control of all strategic ports and waterways in the United States. It owned the land on both sides of the Golden Gate and needed to know if a bridge would hinder marine
navigation and if money was available for the project. The War Department agreed to the plan in 1924, but many San Franciscans were opposed to the bridge idea. Ferry companies that made their livelihoods carrying passengers across the strait mounted a stiff campaign to block the bridge. Bridge proponents eventually carried the day and Strauss was chosen as chief engineer in late 1929. A year later, voters living inside the Golden Gate Bridge District actually put their homes and businesses up for collateral to finance the project. It would be a $35 million dollar construction project.
Surf Crashing in front of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge
A remarkable endeavor in the depths of the Great Depression. The bridge was finished in 1937.

Three-dollar Fare to Cross the Golden Gate Bridge

Millions of visitors come to the bridge each year. The speed limit of the bridge is now only 45 miles per hour and traffic fines have been doubled for the bridge. A $3 fee is collected for southbound traffic and tourists who want to ride their bikes across the bridge can take advantage of the 10-foot wide sidewalks.
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Last Updated: July 25, 2014