On a clear day in San Francisco, the glowing Golden Gate Bridge hovers like an orange-highlighted doorway above a choppy bay. On a day like that, the cityscape looks like a 3-dimensional pop up book, layered by impossible skyscrapers, bright white buildings, blue water, and mountainous backdrops.
As early as 1820, San Francisco began being serviced by ferry from Marin. The idea of a connecting bridge even then seemed necessary but impossible. When demand for building the bridge became more of reality in 1916, the first engineers quoted that it would cost $100 million dollars – a completely absurd amount for the time.
Joseph Strauss, an engineer and poet, rethought the designs and introduced the idea of a suspension bridge, claiming it could be built for $17 million. Strauss got the job, and from that moment on the following two decades of his life were completely consumed by the project.
The project faced political backlash, environmental uncertainties, intense fog and winds, and stringent regulations to prevent it from clogging the important port. It underwent countless design revisions and passed through the hands of numerous designers. It incorporated the innovation of what is called the “deflection theory,” where the bridge would be able to sway in the wind. The final redesign was by Leon Moisseiff, which added the needed grace and visual appeal that Strauss’ proposed central-suspension design could not offer. In 1933, for a budget of $35 million dollars, the project finally began.
The grand opening for the bridge came in May of 1937. It was the longest suspension bridge of the time and the fruition of an impossible project. Today, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in the world and has been declared a modern Wonder of the World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
It is an inspiring work of art and ingenuity, and serves as a reminder that function and beauty can coexist in some of the most unexpected ways.
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