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The Golden Gate

Bridge

Submitted by
Akhil V Sukumar
GECT Civil (B)
Roll no 5

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge across the Golden Gate strait,
the mile-wide, three-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and
the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the U.S. city of San Francisco, on the
northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, to Marin County. The bridge is one of
the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the
United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by
the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The Frommers travel guide considers
the Golden Gate Bridge "possibly the
most beautiful, certainly the most
photographed bridge in the world". It
opened in 1937 and was, until 1964,
the longest suspension bridge main
span in the world, at 4,200 feet
(1,300 m).
Fig 1: Golden Gate Bridge

History
Before the bridge, the only way to go north from San Francisco to Marin County
was by ferryboat. The trip by ferry took 20 minutes to complete. Before the
bridge was built, San Francisco was the biggest American city still served mostly
by ferries. Some experts did not think that people could build a bridge because
the water currents between Marin and San Francisco were very strong. Also, the
water was very deep in the middle - 102 m - and there was a lot of wind and fog
that could make building a bridge difficult.

In

1916,

San

Francisco's

city

engineer asked other engineers to


offer ideas for a bridge. One man,
Joseph

Strauss,

designed

very

cheap bridge - only $17 million, but


many thought it was ugly. Local
authorities asked him to change the
design

and

to

work

with

other

experts. He agreed. He and other


experts, especially architect Irving
Morrow, designed the bridge again,
this time as a suspension bridge. A
suspension bridge has tall towers
that hold long cables, and the cables
hold up or "suspend" the bridge.
Fig 2: The Statue of Joseph Strauss near
the bridge

The bridge is called the Golden Gate


Bridge because it crosses the Golden
Gate Strait, the

Area of water between the San Francisco peninsula and the Marin County
peninsula.

In 1930, people in San Francisco and


Marin County agreed that the local
governments could sell bonds to the
public to raise money for the bridge.
The new bridge was going to cost
$30.1 million. But it was difficult for
the governments to sell the bonds at
the time because of the Wall Street
Crash of 1929. Finally, the Bank of
America, which was based in San
Francisco, agreed to buy all the
bonds to help the local economy.
Fig 3: Joseph Strauss

Construction

Construction began on January 5,

both

of

Lehigh

University.

1933 and was finished in April 1937.


Construction began on January 5,
1933. The project cost more than
$35 million, completing
schedule

and

Golden

Gate

project

was

ahead

of

under

budget. The

Bridge

construction

carried

out

by

the

McClintic-Marshall Construction Co.,


a

subsidiary

Corp. founded

of Bethlehem
by

Howard

Steel
H.

McClintic and Charles D. Marshall,

Fig 4: Golden
construction

Gate

Bridge

under

Strauss remained head of the project, overseeing day-to-day construction and


making some groundbreaking contributions. A graduate of the University of
Cincinnati, he placed a brick from his alma mater's demolished McMicken Hall in
the south anchorage before the concrete was poured. He innovated the use of
movable safety netting beneath the construction site, which saved the lives of
many otherwise unprotected steelworkers. Of eleven men killed from falls during
construction, ten were killed (when the bridge was near completion on May 27,
1937) when the net failed under the stress of a scaffold that had fallen.
When they finished the bridge, they painted it with a reddish-orange sealant, a
type of paint that protects the bridge from water and humidity. People liked the
colour because it looked good with the bridge's surroundings and it was easy to
see in the fog, so the bridge was officially painted with the colour, called
International Orange.

Characteristics
Until 1964, the Golden Gate Bridge had the longest suspension bridge main
span in the world, at 4,200 feet (1,300 m). Since 1964 its main span length has
been surpassed by ten bridges; it now has the second-longest main span in the
United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City.
Total length of the Golden Gate Bridge from abutment to abutment is 8,981 feet
(2,737 m). The total weight of the bridge is about 887,000 tons which contains
about 88,000 tons of steel. There are two towers that hold up the two steel
cables anchoring the bridge. They weigh 44,000 tons each and are 4,200 feet
apart from each other.

The bridge is 90 feet wide. There are six driving lanes and two sidewalks. The
width of the driving lanes is 62 feet between curbs and the sidewalks are 10 feet
each. The Golden Gate Bridge's clearance above high water averages 220 feet
(67 m) while its towers, at 746 feet (227 m) above the water, were the world's
tallest on a suspension bridge until 1998 when bridges in Denmark and
Japan were completed.

Structure

The weight of the roadway is hung


from two cables that pass through
the two main towers and are fixed in
concrete at each end. Each cable is
made of 27,572 strands of wire.
There are 80,000 miles (130,000 km)
of wire in the main cables. The
bridge has approximately 1,200,000
total rivets.

Fig 5: On the south side of the bridge a


36.5-inch-wide (93 cm) cross-section of
the cable, containing 27,572 wires, is on
display.

Timeline
1848 - Captain John C. Fremont names the cleft in the Coastal Mountain Range
opening onto San Francisco Bay the Golden Gate. The bridge derives its name
from the land feature and not its color.
1916 - James H. Wilkins comes up with the idea to connect northern California to
the San Francisco peninsula.
December 1924 - The United States War Department, the government entity
responsible for the entire area surrounding the strait, approves the project.
1928 - The Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District is formed and Joseph B.
Strauss is appointed as architect/designer.
January 5, 1933 - Construction begins.

May 27, 1937 - The Bridge is


completed and opens to pedestrians.
The bridge is built at a cost of
approximately $35.5 million and
comes in under budget and ahead of
schedule.
May 28, 1937 - The Bridge is
opened to vehicles.

Fig 6: Opening Ceremony of the Golden


Gate Bridge

August 7, 1937 - World War I veteran Harold Wobber, the first bridge suicide,
purportedly says, "This is where I get off,' and then jumps to his death.
1939 - A safety railing to prevent suicides is installed. The original bridge design
by Strauss called for fencing over five feet as to be "practically suicide-proof."
Architect Irving Morrow changed that and lowered the railing.
August 9, 2002 - California's Office of Homeland Security alerts the FBI after
receiving an anonymous tip that terrorists plan to crash a U.S. military plane into
the bridge.
May 8, 2012 - Opening of the Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion.
2013 - According to the Bridge Rail Foundation nearly 1,600 people have
committed suicide by jumping off the bridge. The average number of bridge
suicides is three per month.
June 27, 2014 - San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge Board of Directors
unanimously approves a funding package totalling $76 million to erect and fund
a suicide deterrent net on the bridge.
January 12, 2015 - The Bridge re-opens after the two day installation of a Road
Zipper System. The "moveable median barrier system" is designed for traffic
management and to protect riders from cross-over accidents.