The Golden Gate Bridge

Over 1200 meters long, the Golden Gate Bridge crosses the waters of the Golden Gate Strait, between San Francisco and Marin County.  It is much more than just a way to get across the water, however.  The architecture, size, and history of the bridge make it one of the most famous landmarks in the world.  10 million people visit the bridge every year and a famous travel guide book claims that it is the most photographed bridge in the world.

An engineering student first proposed the bridge in 1916.  Another engineer named Joseph Strauss came up with a potential design for the bridge, which he believed would cost $17 million.  The bridge proposal was controversial.  The US Navy opposed the bridge, fearing that it might be dangerous for ship traffic in the area.  American car makers, on the other hand, were supportive of the bridge idea as this would lead to a further need for new roads and increased demand for vehicles.  In 1924, however, the government secured the land needed to build the bridge.

The design for the bridge was unlike any other at the time.  The currents in the Golden Gate Strait were unusually strong.  The very strong winds in the area also presented a challenge for the designers.  Strauss consulted with other engineers, who offered their expertise to design a bridge that could endure the harsh elements.  After much hard work and redesign, the engineers finally agreed upon a suspension bridge where cables attached to two main towers would carry the weight of the road below them.

In January, 1933, workers of the McClintic-Marshall Construction Company began building the bridge. Joseph Strauss designed a special kind of safety net for the construction workers.  The net saved at least 19 lives but 11 men eventually died putting up the bridge. It was finished in April, 1937.  A gift shop, diner, and plaza were eventually constructed as well.  Even today, the famous bridge is still considered a remarkable achievement of sound design and construction.



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