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Learn about the Great American Landmark the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
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Learn About the Great American Landmark the Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is the internationally recognized symbol of the gateway to the Pacific Ocean and the city of San Francisco. The distinctive suspension bridge spans the opening into the San Francisco Bay from the northern tip of the peninsula to Marin County as part of US highway 101 and California State Highway 1. Nearly two miles in length, it is the second largest suspension bridge in the United States after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City, the brainchild of Joseph Strauss, an engineer from Cincinnati with more than 400 drawbridges to his name.
The Golden Gate Bridge was a project of a much larger scale than any bridge before. The crossing of the Golden Gate Strait was for many year accomplished by a ferry that ran between the Hyde street here in San Francisco and Sausalito and Marin County. Starting in 1921, Strauss spent more than a decade drawing support for the bridge in Northern California, raising money during the bleak economy of the great depression was not an easy feat but the construction of the bridge brought employment to thousands of people.
The building of the Golden Gate Bridge began on January 5, 1933. The design featured two piers, one on Marin County’s shore, the second built in the water. The piers ascend 44 feet over the water and weigh about 45 thousand tons each. Two towers rise above the piers and hold the bridge’s cables and roadway. Both towers are made of 35 foot-high steel cells. These cells stay together with rivets and there are on more than six hundred thousand rivets in each tower. The towers themselves are 746 feet above the water and each weighs nearly 62 thousand tons. Construction of the towers was finished in 1935. Two main cables suspend the bridges, each over 7000 feet long. The main cables hold 61 smaller cables which in turn contain 452 even smaller cables. If all of these cables were joined together in one string, they would circle the earth three times. The bridge’s roadway hangs from the two cables and sometimes it moves a little with the wind but don’t worry. The roadway can safely rise or fall about 10 feet. In the last 10 years, windy conditions have only closed the bridge four times.
When construction was finished, the bridge opened to pedestrians on May 27, 1937 and to vehicle traffic the next of the day. The bridge is widely considered one of the most beautiful examples of bridge engineering, both as a structural design and for its aesthetic appeal. The brilliant orange color was selected by Architect Irving Morrow because it blends well with natural surroundings yet enhances the bridges visibility in the treacherous San Francisco fog. Bright lights were added in the final plans to outline the towers and illuminate the bridge at night. The Golden Gate Bridge is truly one of the modern wonders of the world.