For more than 75 years, the Golden Gate Bridge has been the main artery between San Francisco and Marin County. Named for the Golden Gate Strait, the narrow entrance between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, the world-famous engineering marvel is surrounded by a factual lore of fairly common knowledge, like how up until 1964 it was longest suspension bridge in the world or that it was the first-ever bridge of its kind where nets were used for the safety of workers. Other details, however, are less well-known. Here are some additional tidbits about the bridge and and its environs.
- At age 7 Ella Woodhead, a San Rafael resident, became (and still is) the youngest person to ever swim the length of the Golden Gate Bridge.
- The first line of vehicles to cross the bridge, on May 28, 1936, contained five California Highway Patrol motorcycles plus one car driven by William McCarthy, an aide to then-mayor Angelo Rossi.
- Workers’ welfare was a priority and use of hard hats was enforced with the threat of dismissal for not abiding. On the flip side, free sauerkraut juice was offered in the mornings to those suffering from hangovers.
- The Lone Sailor Memorial at Vista Point is a replica of a Stanley Bleifeld statue that was a tribute to sailors and marines who sailed from here and performed their duty. Dedicated in 2002, the memorial is located in the bridge’s north parking lot.
- Tiny, phone-booth-size elevators exist behind heavy iron doors on both the north and south towers of the bridge, and they go to the top.
- Eleven shark species call the bay their home, but the broadnose sevengill shark reigns supreme as the top predator. One of its favorite hangout spots? Under the Golden Gate Bridge.
- Shoes, canes, fur coats and fake teeth all number among the items toll collectors would let people get by with instead of payment in the past.
- Maybe it’s the vibrant International Orange color or simply the location that makes it so gripping, but the Golden Gate is the most photographed bridge in the world.
- A crew of 200 worked eight years to build the historic Fort Point, and the first cannon was mounted in 1861 just before the Civil War began. The fortress was slated to be removed in the original bridge plans, but instead a massive steel arch was erected over it. It went on to become a National Historic site.
- A unique occurrence took place on the bridge in 1958, 1991 and again in 1993 — babies were born on it. But it gets stranger; all three babies were boys.
TOTAL LENGTH 8,981 feet, about 1.7 mile
WIDTH 90 feet, 6 lanes
HEIGHT 746 feet
LONGEST SPAN 4,200 feet
CLEARANCE ABOVE 14 feet
CLEARANCE BELOW 220 feet
DESIGNERS Joseph Strauss, Irving Morrow, Charles Ellis
CONSTRUCTION BEGAN January 5, 1933
CONSTRUCTION ENDED April 19, 1937
OPENED May 27, 1937
DAILY AVERAGE TRAFFIC 110,000 cars
COST TO CROSS $7.25 pay by plate, $6.25 FasTrak