Interesting Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge
Why the name Golden Gate?
The Golden Gate Strait is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The strait is approximately three-miles long by one-mile wide with currents ranging from 4.5 to 7.5 knots. It is generally accepted that the strait was named "Chrysopylae", or Golden Gate, by John C. Fremont, Captain, topographical Engineers of the U.S. Army circa 1846. It reminded him of a harbor in Instanbul named Chrysoceras or Golden Horn.
How long did it take to build the bridge?
Just over four years. Construction commenced on January 5, 1933 and the Bridge was open to vehicular traffic on May 28, 1937.
When did the Golden Gate Bridge open?
The dream of spanning the Golden Gate Strait had been around for well over a century before the Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic on May 28, 1937. Pedestrian Day was held on May 27, 1937.
How many people worked on the bridge during its construction?
We do not have the exact employment figures. The Bridge was built by 10 different prime contractors and their subcontractors. These contractors are no longer in business and our agency did not have the employment records.
Were hard hats used when building the bridge?
Yes they were and here is how they came to be. The E.D. Bullard Company was founded in 1898 in San Francisco, CA, where the firm manufactured equipment for miners in western states. Many years later when Bullard's son, Edward W. Bullard (1899-1963), returned from World War I, he applied his experience with Doughboy army helmets in designing protective headgear for miners, and soon after, for the construction industry. E.W. Bullard's original 1919 "Hard-Boiled Hat" was manufactured out of steamed canvas, glue and black paint and included a suspension device. It was considered the first "hard hat," which revolutionized construction and mine worker safety. During construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, Bullard adapted his hats for bridge workers. E.D. Bullard Co., Inc. remains a family-owned business and continues to produce innovative products for construction and public safety from its headquarters in Cynthiana, Ky.
How many workers died during the construction of the bridge and what were their names?
Eleven men. Until February 17, 1937, there had been only one fatality, setting a new all-time record in a field where one man killed for every million dollars spent had been the norm. On February 17, ten more men lost their lives when a section of scaffold carrying twelve men fell through the safety net. October 21, 1936: Kermit Moore February 17, 1937: O.A. Anderson; Chris Anderson; William Bass; O. Desper; Fred Dümmatzen; Terence Hallinan; Eldridge Hillen; Charles Lindros; Jack Norman; and Louis Russell.
What's the Halfway-to-Hell-Club?
The most conspicuous precaution was the safety net, suspended under the floor of the Bridge from end to end. During construction, the net saved the lives of 19 men who became known as the "Half-Way-to-Hell Club."
What would it cost to build the bridge today?
The cost to construct a new Golden Gate Bridge would be approximately $1.2 billion in 2003 dollars. The total price depends on a many factors including the extent of the environmental reviews and the cost of labor and materials.
How many rivets are there in each Golden Gate Bridge tower?
There are approximately 600,000 rivets in each tower.
What is the poem on the bridge written by Joseph B. Strauss?
Upon completion of building the Golden Gate Bridge in May 1937, Chief Engineer Joseph B. Strauss wrote a poem entitled "The Mighty Task is Done."
On opening day in1937, how did the San Francisco Chronicle refer to the Golden Gate Bridge?
A thirty-five million dollar steel harp!
Where was the steel fabricated to build the Golden Gate Bridge?
The fabricated steel used in the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge was manufactured by Bethlehem Steel in plants in Trenton, New Jersey and Sparrows Point, Maryland and in plants in three Pennsylvania towns: Bethlehem, Pottstown, and Steelton. The steel was loaded, in sections, onto rail cars, taken to Philadelphia and shipped through the Panama Canal to San Francisco. The shipment of the steel was timed to coincide with the construction of the bridge.
Does the Golden Gate Bridge have the world's longest suspension plan?
Not any more. The 4,200 foot long suspension span of the Golden Gate Bridge was the Bridge Span Under Constructionlongest span in the world from the time of its construction in 1937 until New York City's Verrazano Narrows Bridge was opened on November 21, 1964. It is 60 feet longer than the Golden Gate Bridge. The Verrazano was the longest single span bridge until July 17, 1981, when the Humber Bridge in England, spanning the Humber River, was opened for traffic with a main span of 4,626 feet. Today, both the Great Belt East Bridge in Denmark (main span of 5,328 feet) and the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan (main span of 6,532 feet) have main span lengths which exceed that of the Humber Bridge. The table below shows the relative suspension bridges in comparison.
Why is the Golden Gate Bridge painted in international orange?
The Golden Gate Bridge has always been painted orange vermilion, deemed "International Orange." Rejecting carbon black and steel gray, Consulting Architect Irving Morrow selected the distinctive orange color because it blends well with the span's natural setting as it is a warm color consistent with the warm colors of the land masses in the setting as distinct from the cool colors of the sky and sea. It also provides enhanced visibility for passing ships. If the U.S. Navy had its way, the Bridge might have been painted black and yellow stripes to assure even greater visibility for passing ships.
Why isn't the Golden Gate Bridge painted gold?
Actually, the term Golden Gate refers to the Golden Gate Strait which is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The strait is approximately three-miles long by one-mile wide with currents ranging from 4.5 to 7.5 knots. It is generally accepted that the strait was named "Chrysopylae" or Golden Gate by Army Captain John C. Fremont, circa 1846. It is said it reminded him of a harbor in Istanbul named Chrysoceras or Golden Horn.
Is the Golden Gate Bridge painted from end to end every year?
No. Painting the Golden Gate Bridge is an ongoing task and the primary maintenance job. The paint protects the Bridge from the high salt content in the air which rusts and corrodes the steel components. Photo of Bridge Painter on Top of Main Cable
How often is it painted?
Many misconceptions exist about how often the Bridge is painted. Some say once every seven years, others say from end-to-end each year. Actually, the Bridge was painted when it was originally built. Until 1965, only touch up was required. In 1965, advancing corrosion sparked a program to remove the original lead-based paint (which was 68% red lead paste in a linseed oil carrier). The removal continued to 1995. In 1965, the original paint was replaced with an inorganic zinc silicate primer and acrylic emulsion topcoat. In the 1980s, this paint system was replaced by a water-borne inorganic zinc primer and an acrylic topcoat. The Bridge will continue to require routine touch up painting on an on-going basis. Photo of Worker Walking on Main Cable
How many ironworkers and painters maintain the bridge?
Currently, a revered and rugged group of of 13 ironworkers and 3 pusher ironworkers along with and 28 painters, 5 painter laborers, and a chief bridge painter battle wind, sea air and fog, often suspended high above the Gate, to repair corroding steel. Ironworkers replace corroding steel and rivets with high-strength steel bolts, make small fabrications for use on the Bridge, and assist painters with their rigging. Ironworkers also remove plates and bars to provide access for painters to the interiors of the columns and chords that make up the Bridge. Painters prepare all Bridge surfaces and repaint all corroded areas.
What are the orginial rivets replaced with once they are corroded?
Since 1970, as various construction projects and painting projects occur across the Bridge, the original rivets are being replaced with ASTM A-325 high-strength bolts of equal diameter. In the early 1970s, corroded rivets were replaced with ASTM A-325 high-strength bolts dipped in organic zinc rich primer prior to installation. When galvanized ASTM A-325 bolts became available in the mid-1970s, corroded rivets have been replaced with galvanized high-strength bolts. When installing high strength galvanized bolts, they have to be pre-tensioned a certain amount so they “clamp” the connection together rather than “pin it” together. Using a predetermined torque value can result in being either over or under the required pre-tension depending on the roughness of the contact surfaces of the turning elements. Using the “turn of the nut” method sidesteps the potential over or under pre-tensioning problem, but it varies depending on the length of the bolt. So, what is normally done is that workers establish the “turn of the nut” rotation and torque value based on the specific length of a lot of bolts under clean conditions. They then tighten it by “turn of the nut” method and check it with a torque wrench that is calibrated first to the specific lot of bolts being installed.
Has the Golden Gate Bridge ever been closed?
Yes, the Golden Gate Bridge has been closed due to weather conditions only three times: As gusting winds reached 69 miles per hour on December 1, 1951, the Bridge was closed for three hours. On December 23, 1982, high winds of up to 70 miles per hour closed the Bridge for almost two hours. The Bridge easily withstood the gusts. On December 3, 1983, once again high winds closed the Bridge for the longest period in its history, 3 hours and 27 minutes. Wind gusts reached 75 miles per hour, but again the Bridge suffered no structural damage. The Bridge was closed very briefly on two separate occasions for visiting dignitaries President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Charles de Gaulle of France. It has also been closed briefly in the middle of the night for construction activities.
How many cars have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge?
As of April 2011, 1,929,896,448 vehicles have crossed the Golden Gate Bridge (includes northbound and southbound) since opening in 1937.
Why does the Golden Gate Bridge use reversible lanes?
Reversible lanes were inaugurated on the Bridge on October 29, 1963. Their use greatly aids the flow of traffic during the heavy morning and evening commute hours and during weekend tourist periods. The Bridge has a total of six lanes. At any given time the number of lanes northbound or southbound may be adjusted. Bright yellow lane markers are manually placed in "sockets" in the Bridge roadway to clearly identify the San Francisco outbound lanes (northbound) and San Francisco inbound lanes (southbound). During the morning commute, there are four lanes of traffic southbound to San Francisco and two lanes northbound to Marin. During the afternoon commute, currently there are three lanes northbound to Marin and three lanes southbound to San Francisco. Read more about current lane configurations.
Is there anything special about the Golden Gate Bridge, like the shape, that influences the fog?
"Advection fog" forms when humid air from the Pacific Ocean swoops over the chilly California current flowing parallel to the coast. The fog hugs the ground and then the warm, moist air condenses as it moves across the bay or land. This is common near any coastline. The Bridge has an influence in directing the fog as it pushes up and pours down around the Bridge. Sometimes, high pressure squashes it close to the ground. By the way, the color of the bridge is International Orange, and was chosen in part because of its visibility in the fog.
May I scatter the ashes of a loved one from the Golden Gate Bridge?
Unfortunately, this is not possible. Under California Penal Code Section 219.3, any person who willfully drops or throws any object or missile from any toll bridge is guilty of a misdemeanor.
What year did the Golden Gate Bridge appear on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine?
On February 26, 1976, the Golden Gate Bridge appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine as the backdrop with five prominent San Francisco based rockers of the day, with a title above the photo that read, “What a Long Strange Trip it’s Been.”
Was a pedestrian fee ever charged to access the sidewalk portion of the Golden Gate Bridge?
From May 1937 to December 1970, a pedestrian toll (sidewalk fee) was charged and collected using a coin turnstile. By Board of Director Resolution No. 7159, authorized on December 15, 1970, the pedestrian toll was eliminated.
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