top of page

What year did the Golden Gate Bridge open?

Today's Daily Doodle is brought to you by a 'this day in history' event. As much as I'm not a fan of San Fransisco (no parking and wayyyyyy too many hits for walking and/or driving a manual car in traffic), the Golden Gate Bridge is always a beautiful wonder to look at and every time I cross it I can understand why I have to pay $8.50... it's of epic proportions!

The concept of bridging the nearly mile-wide Golden Gate Strait was proposed as early as 1872, but it was not until the early 1920s that public opinion in San Francisco began to favor such an undertaking. In 1921, Cincinnati-born bridge engineer Joseph Strauss submitted a preliminary proposal: a combination suspension-cantilever which could be built for $27 million. The original design was supposedly quite ugly in comparison to the bridge that was built, but his design was affordable, and Strauss became the recognized leader of the effort to bridge the Golden Gate Strait.

During the next few years, Strauss’ design evolved, thanks in part to the contributions of consulting engineer Leon S. Moisseiff, architect Irving F. Morrow, as well as others. Moisseiff’s concept of a simple suspension bridge was accepted by Strauss, and Morrow, along with his wife, Gertrude, developed the Golden Gate Bridge’s elegant Art Deco design. Morrow would later help choose the bridge’s trademark color: “international orange,” a brilliant vermilion color that resists rust and fading and suits the natural beauty of San Francisco and its picturesque sunsets. In 1929, Strauss was selected as chief engineer.

The Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District was formed in 1928 to finance the project, consisting of San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Del Norte, and parts of Mendocino and Napa counties. These counties agreed to collectively take out a large bond, which would then be paid back through bridge tolls. In November 1930, residents of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District voted 3-1 to put their homes, farms, and businesses up as collateral to support a $35 million bond to build Strauss’ Golden Gate Bridge.

Construction began on January 5, 1933, during the Great Depression. Strauss and his workers overcame many difficulties such as strong tides, frequent storms and fogs, and the problem of blasting rock 65 feet below the water to plant earthquake-proof foundations. Eleven men lost their lives during construction of the bridge.

After nearly four and a half years, the Golden Gate Bridge was opened to great acclaim on May 27, 1937. It was a bold symbol of progress in the Bay Area during a time of economic crisis. At a length of 4,200 feet, it was the longest bridge in the world at that time.

Excitement was palpable for the opening of bridge that the Golden Gate Fiesta included nine days of celebrations, and two opening days rather than one. The first opening day (May 27) was limited to pedestrians only. The organizing committee estimated that 100,000 people would take advantage of the opportunity to stroll across the bridge without interference from cars, but they seriously underestimated the appeal. From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day, more than 200,000 people flocked to the bridge for a chance to say they walked across.

The first person to officially cross the bridge was Donald Bryant, a San Francisco Junior College track team member, who said he finished first by 100 yards. These were just some of the other FIRSTS recorded:

  • First to walk across and back on stilts: Florentine Calegeri, a houseman from the Palace Hotel

  • First to roller-skate across: Carmen Perez, 24, and Minnie Perez, 22, her sister, from 520 Bush Street in San Francisco

  • First mail carriers across: Charles Connor and Charles McFarlane both of San Francisco

  • First girl lost (and of course found) on the Bridge was 11 year old Anna Marie Anderson

  • First rope to be taken across went over in the hands of Boy Scout Troop No. 5 of San Anselmo headed by club master Zeno Callahan

The second opening day was May 28, 1937, this time for automobiles. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in the White House declaring the span open to the entire world. With nearly 80,000 miles of steel cable on the bridge and the two bridge towers rising 746 feet, even those traveling over by automobile must have been impressed. San Fransico and Marin counties were now connected in a way only dreamt of until this day.

Though it has lost it's title of longest or largest, the Golden Gate Bridge remains one of the world’s most recognizable architectural structures to this day.

6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page