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Golden Gate Bridge: History & Facts

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson goes over the fascinating history of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. You'll also learn some very interesting facts about the bridge as well.

Golden Gate Bridge

Made famous by countless movies and TV shows around the world, as well as plenty of travel guides, perhaps it's no surprise that one of the most iconic bridges in the world is the Golden Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge that spans the Golden Gate strait in California.

Let's go over a brief history of this amazing bridge and learn some facts along the way.

Deciding on a Bridge

In 1919, a San Francisco civil engineer named Michael O'Shaughnessy was given the task of finding someone who would be able to build a bridge across the Golden Gate strait. This is a strait that connects San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. For decades, many people had clamored to connect the city of San Francisco to neighbors across the straight, so O'Shaughnessy began his search.

The Golden Gate strait circa 1891, before the bridge was built.
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He found a man by the name of Joseph Strauss, a Chicago-based engineer. Strauss thought he could complete this immense project for a modest $25 million to $30 million. Strauss submitted an initial sketch of what he thought the bridge would look like, but the problem wasn't designing the bridge. It was convincing people who lived at the northern end of the strait that they needed the bridge in the first place.

In 1923, the California state legislature passed the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District Act of California. The purpose of this was to help aid the planning and financing of the bridge. Eventually, many people began to come on board with the plan to build the bridge, but a number of organizations and people still sued to stop its construction.

Businesses were afraid it would hurt the shipping industry. Others didn't want to destroy the natural beauty of the area by placing a bridge right across it. Then, during the Great Depression, it was hard to find enough financial backers for the bridge, but Strauss managed to secure partial financing from Bank of America President A.P. Giannini.

Meanwhile, efforts on the side of the architects and engineers continued. Charles Ellis figured out all the complex engineering equations to build the bridge designed by architects like Irving Morrow.

Building the Bridge

Finally, about 14 years after O'Shaughnessy began his search, construction began on January 5, 1933. Men from around the area gave up jobs as farmers and clerks to get a steady paycheck as iron workers. Millions of cubic feet of dirt had to be moved to secure the bridge's anchorages. Divers had to blast away underwater rock and remove underwater debris.

The towers of the bridge were finally completed 2.5 years later in June 1935. At this point, John A. Roebling's Sons Company was given the task of making the famous suspension cables for the bridge. The engineers working for this company figured out a way to efficiently take over 25,000 individual steel wires and band them together into each of the 7,650-feet cables. They were told they had to manufacture and place the spools onto the bridge in a year, but they managed to do it in almost half that time.

During the construction of the bridge, workers were protected by a safety net. In fact, this net saved the lives of 19 people. All in all, 11 people died during the construction of the bridge, which was far less than the expected casualty number at the time.

The road was completed on April 19, 1937, and the bridge opened to pedestrians on May 27, 1937. On May 28, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to automobile traffic.

The Golden Gate Bridge
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Facts

Here are some notable facts about the bridge itself:

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