The Golden Gate Bridge just turned 80 years old — take a look at its historic build

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The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco during its construction.
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Hulton Archive/Getty

The Golden Gate Bridge celebrates the 80th anniversary of its opening on Saturday, May 27.

“A necklace of surpassing beauty was placed about the lovely throat of San Francisco yesterday,” wrote a San Francisco Chronicle reporter a day after the opening ceremonies in 1937.

The Golden Gate is neither the longest nor the tallest bridge in the US – but its marriage of engineering and art makes it one of the most stunning sites in the world.

These vintage photos show how the crown jewel of San Francisco’s skyline came together.


The proposal for a bridge connecting San Francisco and Marin County overcame unlikely odds. Ferry companies fought it because it would cut into their profits carrying some 50,000 commuters a day into the city. Environmentalists thought it would be obtrusive.

Source: Kevin Starr


It is said that advocates of the bridge began to spread drawings of what it might look like, and its beauty won over the opposition. District voters approved a $35 million budget.

Source: SFGate


On July 9, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt pressed a button that that set off a charge of dynamite, starting construction work on the historic bridge over the San Francisco Bay.


Crews dug out some 3.25 million cubic feet of dirt to plant the bridge’s 12-story-tall towers. Workers dove from a platform to depths of 90 feet to blast away rock and remove debris.

Source: History.com


At 4,200 feet, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge built at that point. It required 1. 2 million rivets, 80,000 miles of spliced wire, and 254 steel suspender ropes.

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General Photographic Agency/Getty

Source: SFGate


The bridge had an impressive safety record for the time. Still, 11 workers died in four years of construction — 10 on one day when a scaffold fell and tore through a safety net.

Source: History.com


The bridge opened on May 27, 1937, and 200,000 pedestrians walked across. “At last, the mighty task is done,” wrote Joseph Strauss, the engineer who dreamt up the bridge.


Today, over 40 million vehicles cross the Golden Gate Bridge every year. It costs $7.25 to ride in the southbound direction — heading into San Francisco from Marin County.

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Cars drive over the Golden Gate Bridge on June 28, 2016.
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Justin Sullivan/Getty

Source: GoldenGateBridge.org

In 1937, it cost 50 cents to travel the Golden Gate Bridge each way.


It’s free to cross for pedestrians and bikers. The bridge has hosted protests as well. In January, people linked arms in opposition after the inauguration of President Trump.

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Andrea Mowrer smiles while linking hands with demonstrators across the Golden Gate Bridge on January 20, 2017 in San Francisco, California.
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Elijah Nouvelage/Getty

Source: ABC7


The bridge’s beauty has stood the test of time. The late California historian Kevin Starr described the Golden Gate Bridge as “a global icon, a triumph of engineering, and a work of art.”

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Justin Sullivan/Getty

Source: Kevin Starr