President Franklin D

Friday 28th May 1937

President Franklin D. Roosevelt, while seated in the Oval Office, pressed a golden telegraph button to ceremonially open the Golden Gate Bridge to vehicular traffic. The president did so at 3 p.m. EST so that the flow of cars and tracks over the 4,200-foot suspension bridge could begin precisely at noon in San Francisco. On the previous day, the bridge was opened to the public on Pedestrian Day. More than 200,000 people paid 25 cents each to walk a mile across the span. Joseph Strauss, its chief engineer, had campaigned for 16 years to persuade skeptical city officials to approve the project across the narrow channel formed at the mouth of San Francisco Bay, where a gap in the line of low mountains opens to meet the Pacific Ocean. Speaking on the span’s opening day, he said: “The bridge which could not and should not be built, which the [U.S.] War Department would not permit, which the rocky foundation of the pier base would not support, which would have no traffic to justify it, which would ruin the beauty of the Golden Gate, which could not be completed within my costs estimate of $27,165,000, stands before you in all its majestic splendor, in complete refutation of every attack made upon it.”Completed just six months after its neighbor, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge appears at times to rise through the harbor mist in a reddish color, known as international orange, which complements its natural surroundings. Its central span remained the longest in the world until 1964, when the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City was completed. Since 1998, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan, at 6,532 feet, has held the record as the world’s longest suspension bridge.

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