Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, a treasure of American engineering and a widely recognized symbol of the greatness of the United States, began amid civic pride, pomp and circumstance on that day in history, January 5, 1933.
“The start of construction was greeted with great excitement,” according to the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District website.
“A celebration at nearby Crissy Field lasted for hours with at least 100,000 in attendance. A celebratory parade through the Marina District began at 12:45 p.m. Navy planes flew in formation and engineering students carried an 80-foot replica of the bridge. “
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The suspension bridge spans the Golden Gate, the narrow strait of turbulent water that separates the Pacific Ocean from San Francisco Bay. It connects the city of San Francisco to the south with Marin County to the north.
When completed, the Golden Gate Bridge had the longest bridge span in the world (4,200 feet) and the tallest bridge towers (746 feet). Its length was surpassed by the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in New York City in 1964 and by other bridges since.
The Golden Gate Bridge was notably opened in May 1937, just over four years after San Francisco Mayor Angelo Rossi and Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District CEO William P. Filmer laid the first mound with ceremonial golden spades had turned.
President Herbert Hoover sent a telegram of congratulations in celebration of the occasion.
The Golden Gate Bridge symbolized the bold daring of the American spirit, even in the midst of global economic catastrophe.
Built during the Great Depression, the Golden Gate Bridge symbolized the bold daring of the American spirit, even in the midst of global economic catastrophe.
Part-time Cincinnati poet and bridge enthusiast Joseph Baermann Strauss was the chief engineer on the colossal project.
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He was a diminutive powerhouse of a man, slightly built and only 5ft 3in tall. Despite this, he tried for the University of Cincinnati football team, where he was badly injured while being elected class president and class poet by his college classmates.
“Strauss was a prolific engineer who built around 400 drawbridges across the United States. He dreamed of ‘building the largest of its kind that man can build,'” writes the PBS American Experience.
“In 1919, San Francisco city engineer Michael O’Shaughnessy approached Strauss about bridging the Golden Gate. Strauss caught fire with the idea and worked tirelessly over the next decade to build the bridge.”
PBS adds, “In November 1930, a year after the Great Depression began, voters finally backed a Strauss Bridge bond issue. The ambitious project finally got the green light.”
His plans included an innovative life-saving measure: a safety net suspended under the bridge floor.
“The net proved an invaluable precautionary measure, saving the lives of 19 people,” notes History.com. “These men became known as members of the ‘Half-Way-to-Hell Club.’ Despite these safety measures, 11 men died during the construction of the bridge.”
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The Golden Gate Bridge is just one of several of America’s most incredible feats of art, architecture, and engineering built during the Great Depression.
Joining this list are the Empire State Building, Hoover Dam, and Mount Rushmore, among other structures that help define the American landscape today.
Perhaps better than any other bridge in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge combines stunning architectural beauty with an important transportation necessity.
Its stunning golden-orange color is officially known as International Orange. It reflects the dual meaning of the color gold in The Golden State.
The strait known today as the Golden Gate got its name from explorers and US Army officer John C. Fremont in 1846, who regarded the passage as “a golden gateway to commerce with the Orient”.
Just two years later, gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill near Sacramento, about 140 miles northeast of the Golden Gate. The discovery of precious metals inspired the California Gold Rush and propelled San Francisco’s rise as a major American city.
The non-native population of California grew from about 1,000 to 100,000 in 1849 alone.
The San Francisco Bay Area today has a population of nearly 8 million people, making it one of the five largest metropolitan areas in the United States.
The metropolitan area includes Oakland east of the bay and San Jose south of the bay.
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The Golden Gate Bridge forms an important transportation viaduct for the region. The bridge is a section of both US Highway 101, the country’s longest remaining pre-interstate US route, and California Route 1, popularly known as the Pacific Coast Highway.
The bridge itself is a major American tourist attraction, attracting about 10 million visitors annually.
Strauss died on May 16, 1938 – just 11 days before the one-year anniversary of the bridge’s opening to the public.
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He wrote a poem in honor of the bridge, The Mighty Task is Done, shortly after its completion.
“On its broad decks in rightful pride / The world in swift parade shall ride / For all time / Below fleet ships from every port / Vast inland bay, historic fortress / And eclipsing all – the sea.”
https://www.foxnews.com/lifestyle/this-day-history-jan-5-1933-construction-begins-golden-gate-bridge-fanfare On this day in history, January 5, 1933, construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins to great fanfare