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c. 1930

See how the Golden Gate Bridge was constructed in these 1930s photos

Look back at the amazing feat of engineering behind the iconic bridge

The official grand opening celebration with klieg lights and fireworks of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, May 29, 1937. The opening ceremonies lasted a week. (Photo by Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

The fact that a Golden Gate Bridge exists at all is largely testament to the persistence of one man—chief engineer Joseph Strauss.

While most experts had decried the project as simply out-of-the-question, due to the many difficult weather conditions exhibited across the bay, Strauss disagreed.

Despite having minimal expertise in projects of this size—he had largely specialized in inland drawbridges—in 1922 Strauss presented the city with a plan 75% cheaper than any previously received. The city’s chiefs accepted.

Work finally began in 1933, and the bridge opened in 1937. Eleven workers died in the process, but another 19 were saved by a giant net slung between the bridges’ two pontoons.

Immediately the whole project seemed doomed when the bay’s ferry organizations took the city to court. Finally, in 1928, the legal protests were thrown out—in no small measure due to the ferries’ inability to handle the traffic levels at the docking bays.

The famous red color was originally an undercoat of anti-rust primer, and both the Navy and Army argued for a stripe finish. But an architect working on the project was so enamoured with the primer that he created a 30-page report setting out the logic using red, and red won the day.

“This bridge needs neither praise, eulogy nor encomium. It speaks for itself. We who have labored long are grateful. What Nature rent asunder long ago, man has joined today.”
Joseph Strauss, Chief Engineer of the Golden Gate bridge, on opening day, 1937

Workers build a catwalk that connects the towers at both sides of the strait so that they can attach the cables for the Bridge.
Getty Images
The Bridge during its construction.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
View from Crissy Field in the Presidio of the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge with the roadbed being installed.
Underwood Archives/Getty Images
1937
The official grand opening celebration with klieg lights and fireworks of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, May 29, 1937. The opening ceremonies lasted a week.
Underwood Archives/Getty Images

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