Today is the 75th Anniversary Celebration of the Golden Gate Bridge.
She was first dreamed of by railroad tycoon Charles Crocker in 1872 for the simple reason of shortening the trip from the north bay areas to the bustling gold boomtown of San Francisco. In 1916 the idea was revisited by James H. Wilkins, a structural engineer and newspaper editor for the San Francisco Call Bulletin paper, which caught the attention of the City Engineer Michael O’Shaughnessy who pitched the idea of a bridge to span the Golden Gate in 1919.
The San Francisco Bay meets the Pacific Ocean at the Golden Gate, a 3 mile long, 1 mile wide span with tides ranging 8 feet and an average 5 knots. The technology to span such a waterway was new and would take an enormous investment. O’Shaughnessy’s plan? Charge a toll and the bridge will pay for itself.
Senior Engineer Charles Ellis took the reins shortly after the project was resurrected after the Wall Street crash of 1929. In 1930 local voters approved a bond to build the $25 million bridge ($323 million adjusted to today’s dollars) but there were no banks that would sell the bond. Newly formed Bank of America stepped in and just 4 years later the bridge was complete and under budget by over $1 million.
That crossing today is $6 and subsidizes a network of buses and ferries that help divert the ever increasing motor traffic off the bridge.
She’s been in a number of films and continues to attract tourists who enjoy walking across for a fabulous view of the City. She has also seen countless confused souls take their last step of life.
She serves as an icon to the world, show her towers to anyone anywhere and they can tell you where she lives. 75 years young and still standing strong. Every year she gets a fresh coat of International Orange Paint and watches the ships go in and out. The color was the original sealant used prior to the coat of silver, but the locals lobbied to keep her orange. The navy, always concerned for safety, agreed to the orange instead of their original request of black with yellow stripes to aid ships in navigating the towers. Thank God.
Here’s to another 75 years!
Happy Birthday Golden Gate Bridge.