Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Golden Gate bridge opened 77 years ago today

The opened 77 years ago today - Happy Birthday GGB!

A foghorn blared into the California dawn at 6 a.m. on May 27, 1937, to signal the official opening of the Golden Gate Bridge. That day, nearly 200,000 people walked, ran, tap-danced and roller-skated across what was then the longest suspension bridge in the world. The next day, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to automobile traffic.
Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge in January 1936. (Credit: Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

1. The military wanted the Golden Gate Bridge to be painted in stripes.
The U.S. War Department initially objected to the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge because it feared that Navy ships could be trapped in San Francisco Bay if the span was bombed or collapsed. The military eventually gave its approval, but it wanted the bridge to be covered in garish stripes. The Navy, concerned about visibility for passing ships in foggy conditions, pressed for black and yellow stripes to be painted on the Golden Gate Bridge. The Army Air Corps pushed for a more festive, if not less gaudy, candy-cane combination of red and white stripes to make the bridge more noticeable from the air.

2. The Golden Gate Bridge’s signature color was not intended to be permanent.
The steel that arrived in San Francisco to build the Golden Gate Bridge was coated in a burnt red and orange shade of primer to protect it from corrosive elements. Consulting architect Irving Morrow found that he preferred the vivid hue of the primer to more conventional paint choices such as carbon black and steel gray. The “international orange” color was not only visible in the fog, but it complemented the natural topography of the surrounding hills and contrasted well with the cool blues of the bay and the sky. Morrow ultimately selected the bold primer color, intended to be temporary, to coat the bridge. (The custom formula, manufactured by Sherwin-Williams, is no secret. It can be found on the bridge’s web site.)

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