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Golden Gate Bridge Facts

Golden Gate Bridge Facts and Figures

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Golden Gate Bridge Facts

This cable cross section illustrates a few facts about the Golden Gate Bridge. This guide has a lot more of them.

©2007 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
cars at the golden gate bridge toll gate

Thousands of drivers cross the Golden Gate Bridge every day, but the toll takers are history. The bridge went to an all-electronic toll system in 2013.

©Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.

The real "Golden Gate" is the strait that the bridge spans. It was first named "Chrysopylae," meaning "golden gate," by Captain John C. Fremont in 1846.

Views of the Golden Gate Bridge

If you'd like a few photos to go with your facts, take a look at some of our best shots.

Golden Gate Bridge Facts: How Big?

The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest span in the world from its completion in 1937 until the Verrazano Narrows Bridge was built in New York in 1964. Today, it still has the ninth-longest suspension span in the world. A few Golden Gate Bridge facts to illustrate its size:

  • Total length: Including approaches, 1.7 miles (8,981 feet or 2,737 m)
  • Middle span: 4,200 feet (1,966 m).
  • Width: 90 feet (27 m)
  • Clearance above the high water (average): 220 feet (67 m)
  • Total weight when built: 894,500 tons (811,500,000 kg)
  • Total weight today: 887,000 tons (804,700,000 kg). Weight reduced because of new decking material
  • Towers:
    • 746 feet (227 m) above the water
    • 500 feet (152 m) above the roadway
    • Each leg is 33 x 54 feet (10 x 16 m)
    • Towers weigh 44,000 tons each (40,200,000 kg).
    • There are about 600,000 rivets in EACH tower.

Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Construction Details

One of the most interesting Golden Gate Bridge facts is that only eleven workers died during construction, a new safety record for the time. In the 1930s, bridge builders expected 1 fatality per $1 million in construction costs, and builders expected 35 people to die while building the Golden Gate Bridge.

One of the bridge's safety innovations was a net suspended under the floor. This net saved the lives of 19 men during construction, and they are often called the members of the "Half Way to Hell Club."

  • Steel Facts:
    • Made in New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania and shipped through the Panama Canal
    • Total weight of steel: 83,000 tons (75,293,000 kg)
  • Cable Facts:
    • Two main cables pass over the tops of the main towers and are secured in concrete anchorages at each end. Each cable is made of 27,572 strands of wire. There are 80,000 miles (129,000 km) of wire in the two main cables, and it took more than six months to spin them
    • Cable diameter (including wrapping): 36 3/8 inches (0.92 m)
    • Cable length: 7,260 feet (2,332 m)
  • Lights:
    • 128 lights are installed on the bridge roadway. They are 250-watt high pressure sodium lamps installed in 1972
    • The 24 tower sidewalk lights are 35-watt low pressure sodium lamps
    • 12 light illuminate each tower, 400 watts each, and an airway beacon tops each tower

Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Traffic

  • Average crossings: About 41 million per year, counting both north- and southbound crossings, compared to 33 million crossing the first year it was open
  • Fewest crossings: January, 1982, when a storm closed US Hwy 101 north of the bridge. On January 6, only 3,921 southbound vehicles passed the toll gates
  • Most crossings: October 27, 1989, a few days after the Loma Prieta earthquake, when the Bay Bridge was closed. 162,414 vehicles (counting those going both directions) crossed the bridge that day
  • Total crossings: Through October 30, 2002, the Golden Gate Bridge Highway District reported 1,754,094,967 vehicles had crossed the bridge
  • Closures: The bridge has been closed three times for weather, for gusting winds more than 70 mph. It closed briefly for visits by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and French President Charles DeGaulle. It was also closed on its fiftieth birthday

Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Important Dates

  • May 25, 1923: The California state legislature passes a law creating the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District
  • August 27, 1930: Joseph B. Strauss submits final plans
  • November 4, 1930: $35 million bond issue approved by the six counties in the District, by a vote of 145,667 to 46.954
  • January 5, 1933: Construction begins
  • May 27, 1937: Bridge opens to pedestrians
  • May 28, 1937: Bridge open to automobiles. The toll was 50 cents one way, $1 round trip and 5 cents surcharge if there were more than 3 passengers
  • February 22, 1985: The one-billionth car crosses the bridge. Toll is $2 southbound on Friday and Saturday, $1 other days. No northbound toll
  • May 28, 1987: Bridge closed to vehicles for its fiftieth birthday. An estimated 300,000 pedestrians jammed the bridge
  • September 2 2008: Toll increased to $6 southbound. No northbound toll.
  • April, 2013: Human toll takers were replaced with an electronic system. This guide has all the details about the new way to pay Golden Gate Bridge tolls.

Golden Gate Bridge Facts: Paint

  • The Golden Gate Bridge's paint color is orange vermillion, also called international orange. Architect Irving Morrow selected the color because it blends with the bridge's setting
  • The bridge was fully painted when it was first built and then touched up for the next 27 years. In 1965, the original paint was removed because of corrosion and replaced with an inorganic zinc silicate primer and an acrylic emulsion top coat, a project that took 30 years. Today, painters touch up the paint continuously
  • 38 painters work on the bridge, along with 17 iron workers who replace corroding steel and rivets

More: Visiting the Golden Gate Bridge | Golden Gate Bridge Vista Points | Golden Gate Bridge History

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