Thursday 5th January 1933
Construction work on San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge began on the Marin County side. Golden Gate refers to the Golden Gate Strait which is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The strait is approximately three-miles long by one-mile wide with currents ranging from 4.5 to 7.5 knots. It is generally accepted that the strait was named “Chrysopylae” or Golden Gate by Army Captain John C. Fremont, circa 1846. It is said it reminded him of a harbor in Istanbul named Chrysoceras or Golden Horn. The bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. It was the first bridge in the U.S. to have piers built in open ocean, and also first to span the outer mouth of a major ocean harbour. The length of the main structure of the bridge is 8,940-ft, with towers rising 746-ft above the water and a minimum clearance of 220-ft. Its first public use was on Pedestrian Day on 27 May 1937, and it was ceremoniously opened for vehicles the following day. The bridge is painted orange vermilion, deemed “International Orange.” Rejecting carbon black and steel gray, Consulting Architect Irving Morrow selected the distinctive orange coluor because it blends well with the span’s natural setting as it is a warm colour consistent with the warm colours of the land masses in the setting as distinct from the cool colours of the sky and sea. It also provides enhanced visibility for passing ships. If the U.S. Navy had its way, the Bridge might have been painted black and yellow stripes to assure even greater visibility for passing ships.