The Golden Gate Bridge (Highway 101 North) provides a vital link for locals between San Francisco and Marin County and is possibly the prettiest morning commute in the world. For over 10 million visitors each year, walking on the bridge is the highlight of their trip to San Francisco.
Named after the Golden Gate Strait that it spans; the Golden Gate Bridge marks the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
Joseph B. Strauss was Chief Engineer on the bridge. At a cost of $35 million, the 1.2-mile bridge took more than four years to build. Eleven men lost their lives during construction (a memorial plaque at the southern entrance to the west sidewalk commemorates the men who were killed). A net suspended under the bridge during construction, from end to end, saved the lives of 19 men who became known as the "Half-Way-to-Hell Club".
Before its completion in 1937, the bridge was considered "unbuildable" because of foggy weather, high winds and strong ocean currents sweeping through a deep rugged canyon below. Often shrouded in thick fog, the bridge sways 27 feet to withstand winds of up to 100 miles per hour. Weather conditions have closed the bridge on only three occasions.
The color of the bridge, known as "International Orange", was chosen because it blends well with the bridge's natural surroundings and provides enhanced visibility to passing ships. The PMS code for International Orange is 173, the CMYK colors are Cyan = 0%, Magenta = 96%, Yellow = 100%, Black (K) = 6%
It’s a popular misconception that the bridge is painted “end-to-end” each year. In 1965, due to advancing corrosion, a program to remove the original lead-based paint from the bridge began. The bridge requires routine maintenance on an ongoing basis by a staff of 28 painters and 13 ironworkers.
US-manufactured steel was used to build the bridge and shipped through the Panama Canal to San Francisco. The two great cables contain enough strands of steel wire (80,000 miles) to encircle the equator three times. The concrete poured into its piers and anchorages would pave a five-foot wide sidewalk from New York to San Francisco.
Toll / Visiting
Pedestrians and bicyclists are allowed across the bridge on pathways with sweeping views of the City, Alcatraz and the Marin Headlands.
The bridge toll for vehicles is $6 collected electronically at the toll plaza when entering San Francisco (no cash payment). Electronic options include FasTrack® and pay-by-plate (toll invoice). A toll invoice is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.
Vantage points from the San Francisco side include the Toll Plaza and Visitors Center (before crossing the bridge) and Fort Point (under the bridge). The first exit on the Marin side of the bridge, Vista Point, provides outstanding views of the San Francisco skyline. The best way to see the bridge is to walk across it which takes about an hour round trip. When walking the bridge dress warmly whatever time of year.
Did You Know?
Length & Height
- Total Length including Approaches: 1.7 miles, 8,981 ft, 2,737 m
- Length of Suspension Span including main span and side span: 1.22 miles, 6,450 ft, 1966 m
- Width of Bridge: 90 ft., 27 m
- Total Weight of Bridge, anchorages north and south approaches:887,000 tons / 804,700,000 kg
- Height of towers above water:746 ft, 227 m
- Height of towers above roadway: 500 ft, 152 m
Cables & Rivets
- Diameter of cables over wrapping:36.375 in, .92 m
- Length of one cable: 7,650 ft, 2.332 m
- Total length of wire used: 80,000 mi, 129,000 km
- Number of wires in each cable: 61 Rivets in each tower: 600,000
- Original cost to build the bridge:$35 million; Cost to construct a new bridge in 2013 dollars: $5.6 Billion
- Number of vehicles that have crossed the bridge (from opening in 1937 through January 2014): 2,025,883,491
Source: Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, goldengatebridge.org