Before construction began in the 1930s, critics scoffed at the idea, warning that the project was impossible. The bridge had to span the Golden Gate Strait, which measures 1.6 km across and is buffeted by winds of up to 100 km per hour. Currents in the strait run up to 7.5 naval miles per hour, and thick fog often blankets the area. This region is also prone to earthquakes. The cost was predicted at US$100 million – a huge sum in those days and well beyond the city’s budget.
It took Joseph Strauss more than 10 years to get the go-ahead. The military worried that the bridge would hinder naval operations and possibly block their access to a key naval base. The Southern Pacific Railroad Corporation took legal measures to stop the project, fearing that the Golden Gate Bridge would kill demand for their ferry services.
Eventually, Joseph Strauss silenced the doubters and raised funds. In 1932, during the gloom of the Great Depression, he solicited investments of US$35 million to build the Golden Gate Bridge. Work commenced in January 1933 and finished in April 1937, with the project costing US$1.3 million under budget.
After more than four years of hard work, the 2.7 km-long orange suspension bridge stood as a symbol of San Francisco and America. When the bridge was finally done, Joseph Strauss was too exhausted to celebrate. His inauguration speech was delivered in a croaky, quivering voice: “This bridge needs neither praise nor eulogy nor encomium. It speaks for itself.”
The best time to visit the Golden Gate Bridge is early in the morning, traveling through Presidio Park along the coast, along steep cliffs that offer views of the bridge from many angles. It’s such a pleasure to see this legendary bridge blanketed by thick fog, rising like an unsolved mystery. The bridge becomes slowly visible as the sun peeks out, glinting in the sun with the dark blue sea all around it. The bridge was painted orange to help it stand out from the dark water and sky. San Francisco is often engulfed in mist; orange was chosen as a safety measure.
On average, 100,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day, as this is the only route stretching north from San Francisco. The bridge has six lanes and sidewalks for pedestrians and bicycles. The vehicle lanes aren’t fixed but change according to traffic needs. Covering a total distance of 2.7km, the bridge lies 67 m above sea level. The distance between its arches is 1,280 m and its main cables measure 0.91m in diameter. At the time of its inauguration in1937, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world.