The Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate strait, the mile-wide three mile long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the U.S. city of San Francisco, on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, to Marin County. It is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
The Frommers travel guide considers the Golden Gate Bridge "possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world".Although the idea of a bridge spanning the Golden Gate was not new, the proposal that eventually took hold was made in a 1916 San Francisco Bulletin article by former engineering student James Wilkins.San Francisco's City Engineer estimated the cost at $100 million, impractical for the time, and fielded the question to bridge engineers of whether it could be built for less.One who responded, Joseph Strauss, was an ambitious engineer and poet who had, for his graduate thesis, designed a 55-mile (89 km) long railroad bridge across the Bering Strait.At the time, Strauss had completed some 400 drawbridges—most of which were inland—and nothing on the scale of the new project.Strauss's initial drawings were for a massive cantilever on each side of the strait, connected by a central suspension segment, which Strauss promised could be built for $17 million.
Local authorities agreed to proceed only on the assurance that Strauss alter the design and accept input from several consulting project experts. A suspension-bridge design was considered the most practical, because of recent advances in metallurgy.
Strauss spent more than a decade drumming up support in Northern California.The bridge faced opposition – including litigation – from many sources. The Department of War was concerned that the bridge would interfere with ship traffic; the navy feared that a ship collision or sabotage to the bridge could block the entrance to one of its main harbors. Unions demanded guarantees that local workers would be favored for construction jobs. Southern Pacific Railroad, one of the most powerful business interests in California, opposed the bridge as competition to its ferry fleet and filed a lawsuit against the project, leading to a mass boycott of the ferry service.
In May 1924, Colonel Herbert Deakyne held the second hearing on the Bridge on behalf of the Secretary of War in a request to use federal land for construction. Deakyne, on behalf of the Secretary of War, approved the transfer of land needed for the bridge structure and leading roads to the "Bridging the Golden Gate Association" and both San Francisco County and Marin County, pending further bridge plans by Strauss.Another ally was the fledgling automobile industry, which supported the development of roads and bridges to increase demand for automobiles.
The bridge's name was first used when the project was initially discussed in 1917 by M.M. O'Shaughnessy, city engineer of San Francisco, and Strauss. The name became official with the passage of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District Act by the state legislature in 1923.
Preliminary discussions leading to the eventual building of the Golden Gate Bridge were held on January 13, 1923, at a special convention in Santa Rosa, CA. The Santa Rosa Chamber was charged with considering the necessary steps required to foster the construction of a bridge across the Golden Gate by then Santa Rosa Chamber President Frank Doyle (the street Doyle Drive leading up to the bridge is named after him). On June 12, the Santa Rosa Chamber voted to endorse the actions of the "Bridging the Golden Gate Association" by attending the meeting of the Boards of Supervisors in San Francisco on June 23 and by requesting that the Board of Supervisors of Sonoma County also attend. By 1925, the Santa Rosa Chamber had assumed responsibility for circulating bridge petitions as the next step for the formation of the Golden Gate BridgeIt opened in 1937 and had until 1964 the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet (1,280 m).