On May 27, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public. Over 200,000 people turned out to celebrate Pedestrian Day, and walked the 1.7 miles across the bridge. Traffic and tolls began the following day. The original toll was 50 cents, but today drivers pay a hefty $7.25 to cross the bridge. Pedestrians were also charged a toll—collected in a coin turnstile—but this fee was abolished in 1970.
The Golden Gate Bridge is named for the waterway it spans, the Golden Gate Strait. It was built to withstand 90 mph winds and an 8.0 earthquake. During the 4+ years of construction, workers were paid anywhere from $4 to $11 per day. They had to endure the Bay Area’s notorious fog, driving winds, and strong tides. Dynamite was used to blast away rock and muck in order to sink earthquake-proof towers 65 feet beneath the water. Safety nets were strung from end-to-end and were responsible for saving 19 lives. These lucky souls were referred to as the Halfway-to-Hell Club. Eleven men were less fortunate and lost their lives during construction. At the time, this was considered a positive safety record.
After living in the Bay Area for 20+ years, and driving over the bridge countless times, I finally got around to walking the Golden Gate Bridge. It was a wild, windy walk, and one that I will never forget. It was a rare sunny day and the views of San Francisco and the deep blue Pacific Ocean were spectacular. Standing on this magnificent feat of construction was breathtaking. I highly recommend you put it on your bucket list. In the meantime, you can take a virtual walk across the Golden Gate Bridge, courtesy of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District: GGBridge_Walk
Fun Golden Fact: The U.S. Navy initially lobbied to have the Golden Gate Bridge painted yellow and black, to enhance the bridge’s visibility. Fortunately, the bridge sports the much tamer hue of international orange.