Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, description and photos

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the most recognizable and beautiful bridges in the world. It is known for its bright coloring and light, as if floating in the air, structure. The bridge connects the city of San Francisco, located on the north of the peninsula of the same name, and Marin County, near Sausalito. The Golden Gate serves as a major thoroughfare in Northern California and is also known as a striking landmark in the United States. For a long time, from 1937 to 1964 to be exact, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Even though that status has long been lost, but still, the length of more than 2.7 km is pretty impressive.

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Video: Golden Gate Bridge


More than 10 million tourists come to San Francisco’s “calling card” each year, and the scenic surroundings, original architecture and distinctive orange color have earned the Golden Gate Bridge the title of the most photographed bridge in the world. Walking across the swaying bridge among joggers and cyclists under rattling lampposts evokes breathtaking emotions like climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The place has also been beloved by directors who have filmed the Golden Gate Bridge in iconic films (especially in the fantasy and action genres): “Superman,” “Escape from Alcatraz,” “Interview with the Vampire,” “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “Terminator: May the Savior Come,” “Pacific Frontier” and many others.

However, the Golden Gate Bridge also has a grim reputation: it ranks first in the world in the number of suicides. In this regard, there are even special phones along the bridge, where desperate people can call for psychological help.

Golden Gate Bridge in detail

Length, width and height of the Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is an impressive size, which is justified because it is the only exit from San Francisco to the north. The bridge is part of both Federal Highway 101 and California State Highway 1. Its weight is 894,500 tons.

The total length of the Golden Gate is 2,737 meters; this figure takes into account the approaches to the bridge. At the same time the length of the suspension part is 1966 m, of which the main span (the distance between the two towers) has a length of 1280 meters.

The width of the bridge is 27 meters, of which 19 meters are given for the roadway, and the sidewalks take 3 meters each.

The height of the piers is 227 m above the water. The height of the carriageway above the water surface at high tide is 67 meters.

The girders of the North Tower Bridge

Construction history

The bridge crossing the entrance to the San Francisco harbor was planned as early as 1872. The idea to build the Golden Gate Bridge was proposed by the self-proclaimed emperor of the United States, Norton the First. This man was quite an extravagant personality and was considered half-mad, but he was respected in San Francisco. Norton issued various edicts in newspapers, and they were gladly printed.

He was fed for free in restaurants and allowed to pick up things in stores without paying. The self-proclaimed emperor had no possessions or money, walked or rode a bicycle, and usually wore an old military uniform. Though most of his decrees were the ravings of a madman, he also put forward some rather sensible ideas, which were then supported by society. And once he printed a decree that it was necessary to build a bridge and designated a place for its construction. This decree was not taken seriously at the time, but years later the bridge was built exactly where Emperor Norton I had indicated.

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Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, 1933-1937.

Joseph Strauss is considered the official engineer of the project. His name is on a plaque on the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. However, Lev Moiseyev and Charles Alton Ellis did the main work, but because of quarrels with Joseph Strauss, their names were not mentioned and were hidden from the public for a time.

Since the beginning of the XX century engineer Joseph Strauss fought hard for his project, overcoming all obstacles. Nevertheless, the cable-stayed bridge connecting the harbor’s north and south banks still seemed like an unattainable dream.

Workers on the bridge, 1936. Cabling, 1936. Final work, 1937.

The Golden Gate Bridge was originally thought to be a very inhospitable area for bridge construction. The rugged bedrock lay too deep beneath the water column, and strong, powerful currents rushed over it at an alarming rate. In addition, the bay is located in a region of high seismic activity. And finally, there is a lot of shipping traffic in the Strait, because ships need to get in and out of San Francisco Harbor. With all these factors in mind, no one wanted to support Strauss. But he got his way: construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge on January 5, 1933.

Tourists viewing the Golden Gate Bridge from a boat, September 1936. Fishermen on Baker Beach, 1936.

Problems at the construction site began from the earliest days, especially regarding the foundation for the south pylon. Because of the instability of the ground in the moving water the support had to be moved further out into the strait, 335 m from the shore, where the depth was 30 m. The current in that area was so strong that it was only possible to work underwater during short periods of time when the tide was turning, i.e. not more than 20 minutes each day. Each pylon of the bridge is 227 meters high, and was assembled from individual modules with about 1.2 million steel rivets. To celebrate the completion of this most difficult construction, the last rivet hammered in was made of gold.

May 27, 1937 – opening of the Golden Gate Bridge

The surface of the Golden Gate Bridge hangs from two powerful steel cables that connect the banks of the Straits. Each wire is made of 27,000 individual 5-mm strands tightly woven into sturdy 92.5-cm diameter bundles. The cables are anchored by heavy concrete counterweights on both banks.

Despite the difficulty, the Golden Gate Bridge was built and inaugurated on May 27, 1937. A “pedestrian day” was declared, and nearly 200,000 people passed over the bridge. Its roadway has 6 rows, and paths for pedestrians and bicyclists were paved.

June 8, 1937 – opening of the bridge to traffic

The consultant architect on the project was Irving Morrow, assisted by his wife. It was they who designed the Golden Gate. Their tower supports make the bridge so beautiful and graceful. The same couple also suggested that the bridge be painted orange and red, although before them the bridge would have been painted metallic or black as usual. The architect changed everyone’s mind, proving that the bay, which is flooded with light, would look even more beautiful if its bridge were painted in bright colors. And he was unequivocally right.

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A bridge shrouded in fog

Another of Irving’s accomplishments is the illumination of the Golden Gate. The project was designed by Irving at the same time as the bridge, but was not accepted. Local authorities felt that such illumination would cost too much. Fifty years later, and for the bridge’s “birthday” celebration, the project was remembered. According to the idea, the Golden Gate Bridge supports should be invisible at night, as if they would dissolve in the night sky, and only the canvas was visible. Half a century later, the idea has been appreciated and realized. This illumination really enhanced the beauty of the bridge at night and made the Golden Gate even more popular.

In addition to its engineering excellence, the Golden Gate Bridge is often cited as an example of superior technical aesthetics. Its pillars became the world’s largest art deco work.

The illuminated Golden Gate Bridge

Suicides on the Golden Gate Bridge

Despite its “sunny” name, for some people the Golden Gate becomes a gateway to another world. This bridge is the most popular suicide spot on Earth. It seems that the “gate” is very attractive to people with suicidal tendencies, otherwise how to explain the fact that during its existence here have parted with life more than 1200 people. And this is just the official data, the number of victims is much higher, because it’s quite difficult to find a body in the waters of the strait. The current here is very fast, and a person can be carried into the open sea.

Ken Hopper, the legend of the Golden Bridge, made a lifetime monument in the form of his hands cast in the metal, which gratefully touched not only athletes, but also many tourists.

Still, some people managed to survive. In total, there are about 30 people. However, almost all of them were very seriously injured, and they had to be treated in hospital for a long time. All of them jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge so that they could enter the water with their feet. Those who jumped headfirst did not survive. Twice it happened that the person who jumped from the bridge was not seriously injured, reached the shore on his own and went to the hospital on his own to be checked out. And one girl is known as the one who jumped off a bridge twice (the second case was fatal).

“Life is Beautiful” Sign: “There is hope, call” Golden Gate at dawn

Police and local authorities are trying to stop this mass suicide pilgrimage to the bridge. Officers are constantly patrolling here. They manage to save about 70 people each year. There are also telephones that can be used to quickly call a psychologist who can help a person in a difficult situation. Unfortunately, so far these measures have not yielded significant results. Also under consideration is a project that would enclose the bridge with a high net to prevent suicides from jumping into the water. But such a project is not only expensive, but would also spoil the magnificent view of the Golden Gate.

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Golden Gate Bridge in the evening

Automobile traffic

Vehicle traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge is quite lively, with an average of 120,000 vehicles per day. The number of lanes in each direction varies depending on the traffic flow. Usually on weekdays, you can see four lanes southbound (into town) and two lanes northbound (out of town) in the morning. During evening rush hour, it’s the opposite. At night, two lanes are open in each direction. The dividing lane is plastic bollards that are very easy to knock down and drive into the oncoming lane, which causes the speed limit on the bridge to be about 72 km/h (45 mph).

Automobile traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge

Tourists in pedestrian areas

Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge is free for pedestrians. You can walk only on the east side of the bridge (the one facing San Francisco) from 5:00 to 18:30 in winter and until 21:00 in summer. The rest of the time the passage is closed.

Pedestrians and cyclists on the Golden Gate Bridge

The bridge is free and open 24 hours a day for bicyclists, but you need to pay attention to which side and when to ride. In winter, the east side is usually open from 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and the west side from 3:30 to 6 p.m. In summer, you can ride longer – until 9 p.m. That said, the Golden Gate is also accessible to cyclists at night – to do so, press the “buzzer” (bell) button next to the gate, and staff will remotely open the entrance.

Vehicles can ride 24 hours a day, but southbound traffic is subject to a fee – since 2011, the fee for cars to cross the bridge has been raised from $5 to $6 ($5 when paying through Fastrak’s electronic system). Northbound traffic is free. Ambulances, police and fire trucks are free in either direction.

No vehicles are allowed on the Golden Gate Bridge:

  • operating electric bicycles, scooters;
  • skateboards, rollerblades;
  • animals, including dogs, horses and others (does not apply to guide dogs);
  • carts, wheelbarrows.

The best view of the Golden Gate Bridge is in the morning, when it is often shrouded in fog. It is also very inviting at night, when the lighting makes it seem as if the spires of the towers are dissolving into darkness.

While in San Francisco, don’t forget the Oakland Bridge, better known as the Bay Bridge, which can be seen in the distance. The Silver Bridge connects the city to Berkeley and Oakland and at 7.2 kilometers long is one of the largest in the world.

Video: Sunrise over San Francisco

Interesting facts

  • The beginning: Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge began on January 5, 1933. The traffic on the bridge opened on May 27, 1937.
  • Construction: The Golden Gate Bridge is cable-stayed with a total length of 2,727 m. On two powerful steel cables attached to the 227-meter piers a 19-meter wide roadway is laid.
  • Density of traffic: The bridge has 6 lanes for cars plus bicycle and pedestrian paths.
  • Suicide Bridge: Since its opening, the Golden Gate Bridge has become a lure for people suffering from suicide syndrome. By now there have been more than 1,200 suicide attempts (the official count was discontinued in 1995 when the number of suicides exceeded 1,000). Of those who have jumped from a height of 70 meters, only a few have survived.
  • Golden Gate Bridge was designed in its own orange color – International Orange (Golden Gate Bridge), its code hex #F04A00.
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How to get there

Address: Golden Gate, San Francisco, California, USA.

The Golden Gate Bridge is visible from almost any hill in San Francisco, as well as from nearby streets and parks. It is located in Presidio Park, easily accessible by bus or car. Buses #4, 10, 24, 27, 54, 56, 58, 70, 72, 74, 76, 92, 101x to the Golden Gate Toll Plaza stop are suitable. The most pleasant way to approach Golden Gate is via the famous Baker Beach just west of the bridge.

By car, just drive north of San Francisco on the 101 freeway.

Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

It is free for pedestrians and bicyclists. Travel by car to the north side is free, to the south side from $8.05.

The Golden Gate Bridge, obscured by clouds, in the fog or in the rays of the setting sun, is a symbol of San Francisco, and probably all of California. It was named after the strait that connects San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The bridge allows you to quickly get to the Marin Peninsula.

Golden Gate Bridge

Since its opening and for another 27 years the San Francisco Bridge has been the largest suspension bridge in the world. Its length is 2,737 meters.

Golden Gate Bridge

Many photos may show it as red, but it’s actually “International Orange (Golden Gate Bridge),” and it was chosen for a reason: it’s better than the traditional gray, visible from passing ships in the fog, blends beautifully with the landscape and looks good in the photos.

Near the bridge, in the tourist pavilion, you can learn how it was built, visit the exhibition, buy a variety of unusual souvenirs with the symbols. Pavilion works from 9.00 to 18.00.

How to get on the bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

On the bridge you can ride a bike or walk on foot.

  • Pedestrians can access the bridge from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in winter and from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. in summer. There are observation decks in the middle of the bridge.
  • The bridge is open 24 hours a day for bicyclists. To ride the Golden Gate at night, you have to press the bell (buzzer button). It is also important to find out in advance which side is accessible.

In winter, from 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the east side, and from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. on the west side. On holidays and weekends: 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the west side and 6:30 to 5 p.m. on the east side.

In summer, 5 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the east sidewalk and 3:30 to 8 p.m. on the west sidewalk. On holidays and weekends: 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. the west sidewalk is accessible and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the east sidewalk.

Golden Gate Bridge

Scooters, electric bicycles, rollerblades, and skateboards are not allowed on the bridge. No pets are allowed on the bridge.

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If you want to cross the bridge by transportation, you can take a transit bus. Detailed schedules and fares are on the Golden Gate’s official website. There is also a Golden Gate ferry schedule on it.

Traffic on the Golden Gate is divided into 6 lanes. The direction of traffic changes depending on traffic. Southbound traffic is free, while northbound traffic will have to pay $6. There are no toll booths when you enter the bridge, it is done before or after your trip using the FasTrak electronic system.

Construction history

In the early 20th century, the strait could be crossed by ferry.

On January 5, 1933, construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge. The prototype art deco design was created by architect Irving Morrow and engineer Joseph Strauss.

Golden Gate Bridge

It is said that two other engineers, Charles Alton Ellis and Lev Moiseyev, designed all the mathematical calculations and the architectural design itself, and because of the quarrel with Morrow and Strauss they were excluded from the list of builders.

Most experts voiced fears that frequent fogs and strong winds made it dangerous to build. But on May 12, 1937, the bridge was inaugurated and made pedestrian for the day, and the next day cars were already driving over it.

The next time the bridge was made pedestrian on the day of its 50th anniversary.

Our time

The bridge is the pride of the country, so it is quite often seen in movies. In the TV series Bewitched he glimpsed in almost every episode. He has also been seen in cult movies: Superman, Star Trek, Interview with the Vampire, Hulk, X-Men, Terminator, Godzilla.

Golden Gate Bridge

The bridge is popular with suicides, so there are telephones along the spans that can be used to call a crisis counseling center. There are signs everywhere urging people to call instead of jumping. The Bridgewatch Angels constantly patrol the bridge. Under the support of the bridge they are going to make a special mesh, which will prevent you from falling into the water.

How to get to the Golden Gate Bridge

There are several ways to reach the Golden Gate Bridge.

By Car

Highway 101, which crosses the entire state of California, leads to and through the bridge. There is a toll on the bridge to the south.

Golden Gate Bridge

By bus.

San Francisco has an extensive public transportation network. The bus is a fairly convenient option, as parking near the bridge is quite small. A detailed list of bus numbers, depending on what neighborhood you’re departing from, is here. The fare depends on the transport fare zone.

The free PresidiGo bus, which runs through the Presidio area, is worth checking out.

On a sightseeing bus.

San Francisco has double-decker buses from several companies – City Sightseeing, Big Bus Tours, and Magic Bus. It’s best to check the official websites for route information.

Golden Gate Bridge

By Taxi

Cabs are pretty expensive in San Francisco, but there are Uber and Lyft if you want to hail a cab.

By subway.

The closest subway station to the Golden Gate Bridge is Judah Street & 23rd Avenue. A diagram of the San Francisco subway is here. It’s worth considering that Golden Gate Park is next to the subway, and it’s about 5 kilometers from here to the bridge.

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