San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge Was Completed and Opened
May 27, 1937
What sights do you think of when you picture
the city of San Francisco? How about the massive and lovely
4,200-foot orange-painted steel suspension bridge known as the
Golden Gate Bridge? The bridge was completed and opened to the
public on May 27, 1937. The next day, with a push of a telegraph
button, President Franklin Roosevelt opened the bridge to cars,
too. The Golden Gate is special for a number of reasons. Until
1964, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. (Today,
the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan boasts the longest span at
over 6,500 feet.) Do you know how it got its name?
area known as the Golden Gate is the channel formed where the
mouth of the San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. People
used the name Golden Gate as early as 1846, even before the gold
rush and long before the bridge. Explorer John C. Frémont was
possibly the first to call the rocky straits the "Golden Gate."
Construction of the bridge began in 1932, during the Great
Depression, when jobs were scarce. The men working on the Golden
Gate Bridge (a four-and-a-half-year project) were greatly
envied, even though they worked in very dangerous conditions,
balancing high above the freezing ocean waters.
the dangerous working conditions, bridge designer Joseph Strauss
introduced the hard hat and a safety net that stretched end to
end under the bridge. Nineteen workers fell. Saved by that net,
they called themselves the Half-Way-to-Hell Club.
1987, to celebrate the bridge's 50th anniversary, some 300,000
people reenacted "Pedestrian Day '37" with an event dubbed "Bridgewalk
'87." Two years later, the gracefully suspended bridge withstood
a 7.1 magnitude earthquake without incident. The Golden Gate is
a wonder to see in person. Have you ever walked the bridge? Ask
relatives and friends if they have.