One of the most famous spans in the world of infrastructure is entering into its 75th year of operation with much fanfare and reflection on the history of the beloved bridge.
The San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937 as a monument to human engineering and creativity, but not particularly as an aesthetic achievement. The San Francisco Chronicle derided the project as a ‘$35 million steel harp’ on opening day, and its ‘international orange’ paint job was not initially well-received by local urbanites, who claimed the color contrasted with the natural earth tones of the bay and surrounding countryside.
Over the course of time, however, the public gradually fell in love with the bridge’s majestic lines and even its iconic coloring – the span is now the most photographed bridge in the world.
The bridge was designed to sway up to 16 feet vertically and 27 feet laterally in the high winds of the Bay, but even this sturdy construction was tested when the Bridge closed on its 50th anniversary for a massive pedestrian stroll – over a quarter million people made their way across the empty lane, flattening the arch and causing the structure to vibrate unsettlingly.
In lieu of a walk, this anniversary’s celebration consisted of guided tours and speeches by prominent officials hoping to mark another chapter in bridge’s past and future.
Janet Reilly, President of the bridge district board, said on Monday, "The Golden Gate Bridge stands today as a testament of innovation and imagination, a bridge built by the people during the Great Depression.”