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The Golden Gate Bridge turns 75

Cars cross the Golden Gate Bridge on opening day in 1937
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Bridge Facts:


  • Opening day: May 27, 1937
  • Crossings: About 41 million per year
  • Length: 1.7 miles
  • Width: 90 feet
  • Tallest point: 746 feet
  • Weight: 887,000 tons
  • Cost to build: $35 million
  • Number of births on the bridge: 3

Every year, thousands of visitors come to see the majestic, world famous Golden Gate Bridge, shooting photographs, walking or biking across the span or simply admiring its stunning beauty. During 2012, there’s one more reason to celebrate this icon: it’s the bridge’s 75th birthday. Its official christening date of May 27 was celebrated by a year-long party, packed with more than 75 community tributes, including a grand public festival spanning the waterfront from Fort Point to Pier 39.


Because officials have traditionally focused on running a bridge, not a tourist venue, visitor amenities have been limited -- until now. The Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service and the Presidio Trust, made numerous improvements to enhance the visitor experience at the iconic span. 


These include construction of a new 3,500-square-foot Golden Gate Bridge Pavilion with a welcome center, gift shop and museum; renovation of the historic Round House into a visitor staging and education center; upgrades to the classic art deco-designed Bridge Café; and enhancements to the Bridge Plaza and the surrounding parklands within the Golden Gate Parks.


New features include guided tours of the bridge, including night tours; two all-new scenic overlooks; new signage and improved public access to Coastal Trail and Bay Trail; and a high-tech “green screen” that will provide a picture-perfect backdrop of the bridge even on the foggiest of San Francisco days.


A key foundation of the anniversary year are the “75 Tributes to the Bridge” being presented throughout the year by a diverse range of community organizations. Programs include exhibits, lectures, performances, films, contests, tours, and a variety of other activities.


Some may be surprised that this majestic icon was at its beginning very controversial. In 1933 some experts asserted that a bridge couldn’t stand up to the depth and strong currents of  the San Francisco Bay. Other opponents called chief engineer Joseph Strauss’s first design an eyesore. There also were some odd color proposals: The U.S. Army and Navy wanted the bridge to be painted in red and white stripes or black and yellow stripes, respectively. In the end, there were about 2,300 lawsuits filed over the project and poor economic times slowed funding. Nevertheless, designer and chief engineer Joseph Strauss and his crew constructed the span in less than 4½ years.


The complete schedule of 75th anniversary programs and events, as well as updated progress reports and visuals on the construction and visitor improvements, is available at