Today, we’re celebrating the 80th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge, an icon of San Francisco. It officially opened to pedestrians on May 27, 1937 and then to vehicle traffic the next day. To celebrate, we’re sharing a few facts that you might not know about the Bridge from the Golden Gate Bridge Research Library.
- Where does the name Golden Gate come from? Golden Gate doesn’t refer to the bridge or the color it’s painted, but the Golden Gate Strait, which is the entrance from the Pacific Ocean to the Bay.
- Have you ever wondered why it was painted a reddish orange? The official color is called International Orange by Sherwin Williams. It was chosen by Consulting Architect Irving Morrow because the color blended well with the natural surroundings of the bridge.
- How often do they paint the bridge to keep it bright and shiny? The bridge is constantly being painted, which is one of the main maintenance jobs. Fresh paint not only gives the bridge its beautiful color, but also protects it from corrosion from salt.
- It took a little over four years to complete the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.
- One of first versions of our modern day hard hats were used during the construction on the bridge. They were made of steamed canvas and glue.
- Eleven men died in the construction of the bridge–but only one, up until about four months before opening day. Then, a group of 10 men died when scaffolding fell. Another nineteen men made it out alive when they fell, but were caught by suspension nets, which became known as the “halfway-to-hell-club.”
- It was the longest bridge in the United States at 4,200 feet, until the Verranzano Narrows Bridge in New York was completed in 1964.
- You only pay a toll to come into the San Francisco. Leaving the city is free on the Golden Gate bridge. This system was instituted in 1968 and is now used in bridges all over the world.
- The highest day for traffic recorded was October 27, 1989 after the Loma Prieta Earthquake damaged the Bay Bridge. A record 162,414 vehicles crossed the Golden Gate Bridge that day.
- The bridge has made appearances in movies such as Vertigo, Superman, X-men, and The Maltese Falcon.