Golden Gate Bridge
January 21, 2007
An International IconThis world-reknowned structure spans the waters of northern California's Golden Gate at the entrance to San Francisco Bay. The towers rise more than 740 feet above the bay and the deck stretches across 1.7 miles from shore to shore. At the time of its construction, it was the longest structure in the world. The bridge's distinctive color, known as international orange, was chosen by its architect because it blended well with its surroundings.
The Financial CostThe bridge was completed in 1937 at a cost of $35,000,000. The toll for a one-way crossing when it first opened was 50 cents. Currently, the toll is $5 southbound (there is no toll for the northbound crossing). On average, there are 40 million crossings each year counting both directions.
The Human Cost11 lives were lost during the bridge's construction. The lives of 19 others were saved by a net suspended below the deck, an innovative safety feature for its time.
Changing ConditionsThe weather can vary dramatically on the bridge from day to day and even moment to moment. Fog can often roll in very quickly, obstructing views and wind gusts up to 70 mph have forced bridge closures in the past. On a clear day, however, the views of San Francisco and the surrounding bay are remarkable.
A Lot of SteelThe total weight of the steel used for construction is 83,000 tons. It was forged in the eastern United States and shipped to California by boat through the Panama Canal. Rougly 80,000 miles of cable make up the two main suspension cables running the length of the bridge. Smaller cables hanging from the main cables provide the support for the vehicle and pedestrian decks.
Many Sights to Be SeenOne of the many sights to be seen from the bridge is Alcatraz Island. This historic island was at various times in the past a fort, a military prison, a federal prison, and currently a national park. During the 1930's the prison housed many of the nation's worst criminals, including the notorious gangster, Al Capone. Tours of the infamous former penitentiary are available through the National Park Service.
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