“To me… San Francisco is an ideal city, intellectually stimulating and naturally beautiful. The oceans and forests are close enough to refresh the spirit; the architecture is always exciting.” ~ Ruth Bernhard
I admit it is a total cliche. It SCREAMS tourist, but I can not deny my fascination with the Golden Gate Bridge. This is coming from someone who HATES heights, and only a year ago did the Brookyn Bridge. (and admittedly loved it…eventually)
Yet, I still can not help but be pulled to them. Both by the metaphors they represent, as well as marvel at how they were made, most of the time by man, and the fact that they bridge the gap between lands tugging at this mermaid’s heart as they straddle water.
Bridges in many ways are a paradox, and none more so then the Golden Gate Bridge.
On my last trip to California seven years ago, I had to be the consummate tourist and walk the Golden Gate Bridge and was utterly enthralled. This year when I visited the Golden City I once again had to go. Twice. Both experience were so incredibly different and a true representation of how ever changing the San Francisco landscape is.
That first day, the true magnificence was laid out before us. A gorgeous sunrise, casting its rays on the monstrous structure that spans the bay and truly channeling our inner tourist as we explored the old fort and the renovated park.
The second time was truly eery yet no less magnificent. Shrouded in the famous San Francisco fog, it let the mind to wonder to images out of a horror scene. Yet despite the setting for a M. Night Shyamalan movie, I also felt like I was the only one in the world aside from my friend. In many ways suspended 220 feet above the water (746 feet if you climbed atop the towers) that we could not see for the fog covered it, we were.
The Golden Gate Bridge was actually opened eighty years ago today. As I began writing this, I didn’t even realize it was so close to the eightieth anniversary. It seemed fitting I hold off publishing this until the actual day.
It is probably one of the most iconic if not THE most iconic bridge in the world, and one that is a true symbol of San Francisco.
Connecting San Francisco and Marin County, the idea was first conceived in 1916 being one of the last cities served by ferries at the time. A bidding war commenced, looking to reduce costs, an engineer by the name of Joseph Strauss became the front runner with his experience of having built 400 drawbridges, though nothing on the scale that building the Golden Gate Bridge would be.
While Strauss’ designs of a suspension bridge, were the initial conception, with little knowledge of the intricacies, other architects stepped in to help. Chief among them was Leon Moisseiff, the engineer of the Manhattan Bridge, and senior engineer Charles Alton Ellis who was later fired, but has since received the credit that is his due. After much political philandering, construction began on January 5, 1933, finishing a month ahead of schedule on April 19 1937.
At the time it was built, the Golden gate Bridge, named after the Strait which divided the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bridge, had the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet. It has since been surpassed by the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York (those darn New Yorkers;) While the two tours are aesthetically pleasing, decorated with the art deco that was famous at the time they were actually designed to hold the main cables that support the bridge. The symbolic orange vermillion color was actually first rejected, later deemed that it fit its surroundings as well as made it more visible in fog.
One Of The Wonders Of The Modern World
While it is both physically appealing as well as wondrous, The incredible beauty of this bridge is without a doubt a marvel and as such has even been given that title. The area surrounding the Bridge was once a fort, and has since been built up into the Golden Gate Bridge District. Emphasizing the history of the bridge, as well as offering a place for people to walk, run, and explore nature within a city.
Every time I visit, I am in awe all over again. Every visit incredibly different, but no less spectacular then the last. Just walking over the bridge invokes all the feels, regardless if the sun is rising or the fog has decided to give me a hug as it blankets everything in my vision. Yes it might be the typical tourist trap, but even those come to be out of love and amazement.
Have you ever been to the Golden Gate Bridge? What do you think about it?