The Golden Gate Bridge
Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge began on Jan. 5, 1933, and lasted just over four years. The bridge straddles the Golden Gate strait, and connects Marin County and San Francisco. In this photo taken circa 1935, one of the stanchions casts a shadow over houses at its foot.
Don't look down
Men at work in October 1935. Chief engineer Joseph Strauss is credited with the original design of the bridge, which he submitted in 1921. The project received financial backing in November 1930, when voters passed a $35 million bond measure.
Workers build one of the catwalks during construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, on Oct. 17, 1935, with the Marin County shore in the background. Eleven workers died during the construction of the bridge. Throughout the construction, a safety net under the floor of the bridge helped save the lives of 19 men. The survivors became known as the "halfway to hell club."
The Golden Gate Bridge, under construction in May 1936, is named after the Golden Gate strait, which connects the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco Bay. The strait is about three miles long and a mile wide.
Mind the gap
Workmen assist in joining the center of the Golden Gate Bridge on Nov. 18, 1936. While chief engineer Joseph Strauss is credited the construction of the bridge, Charles Ellis and Leon Moissieff are the ones who overcame the engineering challenges and are responsible for the design of the suspension cables going over two bridge towers.
A work in progress
Architect Irving Morrow gave the Golden Gate Bridge its art deco characteristics. He designed the shape of the towers to emphasize their height and added vertical fluting along the braces between the tower legs. These details cast dramatic shadows with the light and help make the bridge look and feel more like a sculpture. Morrow also designed the streetlamps, railings and walkways.
The high way
A Lockheed Electra, piloted by Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, flies over the Golden Gate Bridge at the start of a planned round-the-world flight on March 17, 1937. The trip was abandoned after the plane crashed on take-off in Hawaii. A subsequent attempt ended when the aviators went missing in the Pacific.
A quiet stroll
On May 27, 1937, the bridge was opened to pedestrians. The following day it was opened to cars. An estimated 200,000 people attended the celebrations on opening day.
Two armed guards on the lookout for possible sabotage patrol the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Dec. 10, 1941.
A warship approaches the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, circa 1943. At the time of its opening, the bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world, with a span of 4,200 feet. It held this title until 1964, when the Verrazano Bridge in New York City opened. The bridge was designed to be flexible and can move 15 feet vertically and more than 27 feet side to side.
A dip in the bay
Jack LaLanne, right, then a 61-year-old health spa magnate, emerges triumphantly from the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay after swimming the mile stretch of the Golden Gate on Nov. 6, 1975. LaLanne swam from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf, with his hands and feet handcuffed and shackled, while towing a 1,000-pound boat.
People celebrate as they walk across the Golden Gate Bridge on May 24, 1987. The bridge celebrated its 50th anniversary with a “Bridgewalk 87,” as homage to Pedestrian Day when the bridge opened in 1937. About 300,000 people crowded onto the roadway, arriving from both ends of the bridge, and created gridlock at the center. The weight of the crowds caused the bridge’s arch to flatten out and disappear.
Pope John Paul II stands in front of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Sept. 17, 1987. During the Pope's two-day tour, he visited a group of AIDS patients at Mission Dolores and embraced 4-year-old Brendan O’Rourke, who had contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion.
Marisa Alioto and her running escort Jenny Chapman, both from San Francisco, carry the Olympic Torch across the Golden Gate Bridge to Marin County on May 4, 1996. The relay continued across the states, ending in Atlanta.
Four of the world's largest cranes squeak under the Golden Gate Bridge on Oct. 24, 2000. The 220-feet high cranes manufactured by the Zhenhua Port Machinery Company of Shanghai, China, squeezed under the bridge with a clearance of about 13 feet. The cranes were destined for the Port of Oakland in California.
Two armed National Guardsmen patrol the Golden Gate Bridge on Nov. 2, 2001. Bridge security in the state was stepped up after California Gov. Gray Davis said that authorities had received credible threats that one of California's many suspension bridges may be targeted for terrorist attack.
A low barrier
A man looks over the railing of the Golden Gate Bridge on Jan. 27, 2005. A controversial film made by moviemaker Eric Steel documenting people committing suicide off of the Golden Gate Bridge opened a debate about why there isn't a suicide barrier on the famous landmark. On average, 30 people a year jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, making the bridge the most popular location in the world to commit suicide. The 4-foot railing along the bridge can be easily transgressed, and has moved many to advocate for the installation of a preventative suicide barrier. Plans to install a safety net have been approved, but the $45 million in financing needed remains the obstacle.
A clear view
Dominique Caron paints a picture of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Sept. 28, 2005.
San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge is seen at sunset on Nov. 4, 2005. Marin County is on the left, the city of San Francisco on the right. The prison island of Alcatraz can be seen on the right.
A deeper shade of orange
The Golden Gate Bridge is painted orange vermilion, better known as “international orange.” Architect Irving Morrow selected this particular shade of orange because it blended well with its natural environment, while still providing high visibility for ships and during fog.
All hail the queen
The Queen Mary 2 sails beneath the Golden Gate Bridge as it enters the harbor in San Francisco on Feb. 4, 2007. The ship, which was on an 81-day voyage around the world, is the largest vessel to ever sail into the San Francisco Bay.
An emergency crew places a protective boom around the sand below the Golden Gate Bridge at Crissy Field in San Francisco on Nov. 8, 2007, after a container ship struck the city's Bay Bridge, spilling 58,000 gallons of oil into San Francisco Bay, closing several beaches and threatening wildlife.
Protestors hang banners as they scale the cables of the Golden Gate Bridge on April 8, 2008, in San Francisco. The demonstrations against the Chinese government occurred as the city of San Francisco prepared to host the Olympic torch relay. Over the years, the bridge has been used as a place of protest for many causes ranging from anti-war demonstrations to protests over the logging of ancient redwoods.
More than 100,000 vehicles per day cross the Golden Gate Bridge. When the bridge opened, the toll was 50 cents each way. One-way tolls began on the southbound side on Oct. 19, 1968. From opening day to April 2011, 1,929,896,448 vehicles have crossed the bridge
Count the triangles
Boats sail past the Golden Gate Bridge during the Spinnaker Cup on May 22, 2009. The Spinnaker Cup is a distance race that starts in San Francisco and finishes in Monterey, Calif.
Clear up here
The south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge appears above the evening fog as the sun sets on the Marin Headlands in Sausalito, Calif.
Workers paint one of the main cables of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Aug. 25, 2011. The project is expected to take up to four years to complete and will require tens of thousands of gallons of "international orange" paint.
A lunar eclipse is seen over the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Dec. 10, 2011.