San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge might just pose for more pictures than any other bridge in the world today. First opened in 1937, almost 200,000 people walked across the bridge as they got to experience the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its completion. Some people who crossed the bridge that day were so excited that they tap danced or rollerskated it across the bridge instead. The next day it opened to traffic and the signature landmark has been attending tall and strong ever since. Want to know some more interesting facts about the Golden Gate Bridge? Here are a few more to think about.
1. An Ugly Color
The United States Navy didn’t want the Golden Gate Bridge to be constructed in the first place. Because the Navy was housing ships in San Francisco Bay, they had a fear that if the bridge was bombed or that it collapsed, they wouldn’t be able to use the boats that were trapped in the bay. The awesomeness of the bridge finally caused the Navy to grudgingly agree to the construction of it, but they didn’t like the color ideas. They thought that the color of the bridge would be difficult to see in the fog. The Army agreed with them. The Navy wanted the Golden Gate Bridge to be painted in black and yellow stripes, while the Army thought it would be a better idea to paint the bridge like a candy cane.
2. It’s a Primer
When the steel began arriving in San Francisco so that the Golden Gate Bridge could be constructed, the consulting architects noticed that the metal was covered in a primer that was a burnt orange color. The initial thoughts of the architects was to paint the bridge a traditional gray color. After looking at the primers however they decided that the vivid hues looked better on the bridge and decided to keep things that way. The color, which is called international orange, also complemented the surrounding region and waters quite nicely. Now the bridge is almost always being painted at some point so that it can continue to have its luster.
3. It Had Its Heart Broken
The original design for the Golden Gate Bridge was actually rejected. The original design was created in 1921 and was commonly referred to as a rat trap that had been turned upside down. The bridge was definitely functional, but it was far from the elegance that was expected from the city of San Francisco. The entire design was scrapped and the chief engineer brought in a rival company to consult with the project. The end result was the graceful bridge that we still see standing today.
4. Jumpers Beware
As the story goes, just three months after the Golden Gate Bridge was first opened to traffic, a man walked along the span of the bridge along the tourist that he had just met on a bus. Once they reached about the middle of the span, the man turned to the tourist and told him that this is where he was getting off. It was time for him to jump. This story has been replicated about 1500 times over the history of the bridge. About one person every three weeks decides to at least attempt to suicide on the bridge.
Because of this, there are 11 counseling telephones that are linked to crisis counselors along the bridge span. There are also 30 known jumpers that have survived their first attempt at suicide, although one of them actually jumped twice and was successful the second time.
5. More Than One First
What many people don’t know about this iconic bridge is that the safety record of building it was one of the best at the time. Although 11 construction workers did die during the construction of the bridge, worker safety was the highest priority on the project. It was the first construction site in American history that required all workers to wear hard hats when they were on the job.
A safety net was also installed underneath the bridge deck in case falls happened. That safety net wound up saving the lives of 19 workers. Almost all of the fatalities, in fact, happened in one incident in February 1937 when a 5 ton work platform broke off of the bridge and it fell through the safety net.
6. A Private Affair
The funding for the Golden Gate Bridge came from a $35 million bond issue that was approved on a 3 to 1 margin. Although the building of the bridge occurred during the depths of the Great Depression, local residents in San Francisco were willing to put up their farms, businesses, and even homes as collateral so that funding for the bridge could be secured. Hardly any state or national money was used to build the bridge and the private construction bonds were finally retired in 1971.
7. A Strong Backbone
Although there is the possibility of the bridge being destroyed by strong winds or an earthquake one day, the construction design is incredibly strong. The bridge has been designed to withstand an earthquake that hits 8.0 on the Richter scale and wins they can reach 90 miles per hour. It’s so strong, in fact, that it has been closed more often because of the visits of important political figures than it has been closed because of bad weather conditions since it first opened in the 1930s.
The faith that the residents placed in funding the bridge in 1930 has also paid off. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the strong backbones of commerce for the city as well. Many people come to see the city, enjoy the piers, and take pictures of the iconic bridge. With a toll that reaches six dollars, it does more than pay off and tourism dollars as well.
The Golden Gate Bridge is an engineering marvel that should be seen at least once. Let these interesting facts guide you as you plan your journey to this world icon today.