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Great American Infrastructure: The Golden Gate Bridge

Posted by InfraUSA on Friday, June 1st, 2012

This is the nineteenth in a series of entries celebrating infrastructure achievements in the United States.

What: The Golden Gate Bridge just turned 75 (Happy Birthday!) and is one of the most recognizable bridges in the world.

When: Construction began on January 5, 1933 and was completed on April 19, 1937.  The bridge officially opened on May 27, 1937.

Why: The Golden Gate Bridge connects previously geographically isolated areas of California, in Marin and Sonoma counties, with San Francisco.

Stats:
– Length: 8,981 ft.
– Width: 90 ft.
– Height: 746 ft.
– Longest Single Span: 4,200 ft.

Interesting facts: During construction, a safety net below the bridge saved the lives of 19 men who became known as the “Half-Way-to-Hell Club.”

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) named the bridge one of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World.

Given the location’s history (less than 8 miles from one of the most catastrophic earthquakes in history), and climate (fog, strong winds & tide), there was many a skeptic about the bridge’s success.  Engineer Joseph Strauss, however, was sure he could build a bridge to withstand these forces.

The name “Golden Gate”  comes courtesy of U.S. Army Captain John C. Fremont who first dubbed the entrance to San Francisco Bay, “‘Chrysopylae’ or ‘Golden Gate’ for the same reasons that the harbor of Byzantium was called Chrysoceras, or Golden Horn.”

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