Today on Days to Remember we celebrate how the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco began construction on January 5th 1933.
Once called “the bridge that couldn’t be built,” today it is one the seven wonders of the modern world. This magnificent span, perhaps San Francisco’s most famous landmark, opened in 1937 after a four-year struggle against relentless winds, fog, rock and treacherous tides.
Opened in 1937, the bridge was built at a cost of $35 million in principal and $39 million in interest and 11 workers’ lives.
The single-suspension span is anchored by twin towers that reach skyward 746 feet, and was once taller than any building in San Francisco.
To support the suspended roadway, two cables, each more than 7,000 feet in length and both containing 80,000 miles of wire stretch over the top of the towers and are rooted in concrete anchorages on shore.
More than 10 years in planning due to formidable opposition, but only four years in actual construction, the Golden Gate Bridge brought the communities of San Francisco and Marin counties closer together.
Before the bridge was built, the only practical short route between San Francisco and what is now Marin County was by boat across a section of San Francisco Bay. Ferry service began as early as 1820, with regularly scheduled service beginning in the 1840s for purposes of transporting water to San Francisco.
The Sausalito Land and Ferry Company service, launched in 1867, eventually became the Golden Gate Ferry Company, a Southern Pacific Railroad subsidiary, the largest ferry operation in the world by the late 1920s.
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, which would have been $2.12 billion in 2009 and impractical for the time.
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, creating a special district to design, build and finance the bridge.
Construction began on January 5, 1933. The project cost more than $35 million, completing ahead of schedule and under budget.
Eleven men killed from falls during construction, ten were killed (when the bridge was near completion on May 27, 1937) when the net failed under the stress of a scaffold that had fallen.
According to Travel Channel’s Monumental Mysteries, the workers platform that was attached to a rolling hanger on a track collapsed when the bolts that were connected to the track were too small and the amount of weight was too great to bear. The platform fell into the safety net, but was too heavy and the net gave way. Two out of the twelve workers survived the 200-foot fall into the icy waters, including the 37-year-old foreman, Slim Lambert.
Nineteen others who were saved by the net over the course of construction became proud members of their Half Way to Hell Club, but what a great wonder the Golden Gate Bridge has been all these years as remember the construction of it starting on January 5th.
Written & Designed by JD Mitchell