A Postcard From San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge

Photo of V. Alexandra de F. Szoenyi
Northern California Writer9 June 2017

It is hard to imagine a time when the Golden Gate Bridge didn’t stand tall in all its fiery orange glory, fiercely protecting San Francisco, while standing pretty for countless pictures. However, on May 27, the iconic structure is celebrating its 80th anniversary. What better way to commemorate this milestone than to learn more about one of the most visited landmarks in the world?

Stats to know

Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began in 1933, opening to the public on May 27, 1937. Called Pedestrian Day, the official opening allowed tens of thousands of citizens to walk across the bridge before it was open for vehicles the very next day. This landmark is a suspension bridge, designed by Joseph Strauss, Irving Morrow, and Charles Ellis, and retrofitted in 2009 to withstand a 8.3 (the strongest earthquake the San Andreas Fault can produce). The entire length of the bridge (from abutment to abutment) is a walkable 1.7 miles (8,981 feet).

Bet you didn’t know that…

Probably the biggest mystery to many is why it is called the Golden Gate Bridge, when it’s not gold in color. This is because it was named after the Golden Gate Strait it stands over. The strait connects the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and is where the first European settlers traveled through before glimpsing what is now SF for the first time.

So what is the actual color of the Golden Gate Bridge? It’s known as International Orange. Interesting enough, it was the primer color for the bridge, and once Consulting Architect Irving Morrow saw it, he was sold. The color was perfect against the blue sky and water, blended well with the surrounding hills, and proved a suitable (and beautiful) contrast against the grey fog. The United States Navy suggested painting the bridge in a black- and yellow-stripe pattern for maximum visibility for the ships traveling under it. Imagine that!

How to get the best views

Walking across the bridge is an awesome experience worth doing at least once. You will see the bridge as close up as you can get to it, and the photo ops are fantastic. You can also embrace your inner child by viewing the landmark from this rope swing in Kirby Cove—a fun way to catch a great view. Take a walk (or drive) up to Battery Spencer and/or Hawk Hill and you will be able to see the entire bridge at once and get the ultimate Golden-Gate-Bridge-and-me selfie. Or check out these picturesque options!

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