Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA
© Jeff Lewis/Tandem Stills + Motio
Golden Gate Bridge
Few structures are as internationally recognisable as the Golden Gate Bridge. Opened on 27 May 1937, the bridge was a marvel of engineering. Its construction was supported by the local population because it would finally connect the rising city of San Francisco to communities in Marin County and all that lay north. Before the bridge was completed, a ferry was the only way across the Golden Gate, the 1.6-kilometre-wide strait that connects the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco Bay. Building a bridge to cross the span would be no small feat, and many thought it impossible.
Financing for the construction was another challenge and was put further at risk with the Great Crash of 1929. But eventually voters in the Bay Area supported a bond measure worth US$35 million (US$473 million today), using their homes, farms and business properties as insurance – this allowed construction to begin in 1933. In the middle of the Great Depression, the bridge became a jobs generator, putting 2,000 men to work. In four years they completed the bridge ahead of schedule and under budget.
Its two towers rise to 230 metres above the water, and the span suspended between them is 1,280 metres long, which made it the longest suspension bridge in the world upon its completion. Seventeen longer suspension bridges have since been built (most of them in China), but the Golden Gate remains the star among them, widely believed to be the most beautiful, most photographed and a symbol of American style and imagination.