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Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a very long bridge in California. Come learn about this big bridge, how it got its name, why it's orange, where you can find it and some other fun facts about this famous landmark.

What Is the Golden Gate Bridge?

You sail into San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, but the fog is so thick you can't see anything. Suddenly, you hear foghorns and a big, orange bridge comes into view! You are crossing under the Golden Gate Bridge!

Golden Gate strait before the bridge was built.
Golden Gate Strait Before the Bridge was Built

The Golden Gate Bridge is a large, orange bridge that stretches across the Golden Gate strait, connecting San Francisco to Marin County, California. It's a suspension bridge, which means that it hangs from cables connected to one tower at each end of the bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge

Construction of the Bridge

It took about four years to build Golden Gate Bridge, and it first opened to the public in 1937. It's suspended by two bridge towers on either side, and each is over 700 feet above the water and 100 feet underneath the water. The entire bridge, including entrances and anchors, weighs 887,000 tons. That is more than 118,000 African elephants!

From entrance to exit, the Golden Gate Bridge is 1.7 miles long. When it was built, it was the longest suspension bridge on Earth. Newer, longer suspension bridges were built after the Golden Gate Bridge, so you'll have to travel to Japan to see the longest one now.

This Bridge Moves and Shakes!

Since there are earthquakes and high winds where the Golden Gate Bridge sits, it was built with cables that are strong but flexible, like licorice sticks, so that it can bend without breaking.

The bridge can move side to side, and the middle of the bridge can move down more than ten feet and up more than five feet. This also helps the bridge take on the heavy load that it bears every day. A lot of cars drive over it--about 110,000 automobiles daily. But keep in mind that you can bike or walk over it, too, if you're up for a hike!

Why Is It Orange?

With a name like Golden Gate Bridge, you'd think Californians would use the opportunity to paint the bridge a beautiful gold color. But that wasn't possible. It gets very foggy in San Francisco Bay, so the bridge needed to be a color that stuck out. However, everyone had different ideas about what color it should be.

A foggy day at the Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge and Fog

The Navy wanted to paint it black with yellow stripes, like a bumble bee, so ships could see it in the fog. The Army Air Corps wanted red and white stripes, like a peppermint, so planes flying over it could spot it.

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