The Golden Gate Bridge is such an iconic symbol of San Francisco that it’s hard to imagine a time when it didn’t exist. But before it was built, it was an impossible task thought by most people.
In 1916, the idea of a bridge to cross the Golden Gate, a narrow strait that separated San Francisco Peninsula and the Marin Headlands, was conceived. Though it was almost immediately dismissed as the cost was estimated to be $100 million (astronomical for the time), a veteran bridge builder named Joseph Strauss lobbied for more than two decades to have it built.
The Golden Gate Bridge faced tough opposition: the Department of War thought it would interfere with ship traffic and the Southern Pacific Railroad opposed it as competition to its ferry service. At first, even the public didn’t like the bridge … because Strauss’ original design was deemed too ugly! But Strauss finally won, and after 22-years of drumming up support, the bridge was built.
Strauss insisted that the project take worker’s safety seriously. It was the first major bridge project that used hard hats and a safety net. During the course of construction, 19 people were saved by the net to become members of the Halfway to Hell Club.
The color of the Bridge is not actually red – it’s an orange vermillion called International Orange. The color was chosen specifically because it complements the bridge’s natural surrounding yet enhances its visibility in the fog.
Construction took more than four years, at a cost of $27 million. The Golden Gate Bridge actually came in $1.3 million under budget (though 5 months late). For his work, Strauss got $1 million … and a lifetime bridge pass!