From vision to reality: Bridge's history

In 1869: A local eccentric named Joshua Abraham Norton, also known as Emperor Norton, is one of the first people to publicly call for the construction of a bridge linking San Francisco and Marin counties. The idea is instantly ridiculed.

» June 28, 1921: After a national inquiry among engineers regarding the feasibility and the cost of such a bridge, City Engineer Michael O’Shaughnessy receives preliminary sketches of a Bay span with a cost estimate of $27 million from Joseph Baermann Strauss, an Ohio-born engineer.

» Nov. 4, 1930: By a 3-1 margin, voters approve a $35 million bond measure to finance the bridge.

» Jan. 5, 1933: Construction begins.

» Feb. 17, 1937: Ten men working on the bridge’s construction lose their lives when a section of scaffold carrying 12 men falls through a safety net under the span. Only one other man died during the entire bridge construction.

» May 27, 1937: Bridge is declared officially open when President Franklin D. Roosevelt presses a telegraph key in the White House announcing the event to the world. An estimated 200,000 pedestrians cross the newly built span.

» May 28, 1937: Bridge opens to vehicular traffic.

» Dec. 1, 1951: The bridge closes for three hours as gusting winds reach 69 mph, one of only three times the bridge has been closed due to weather conditions.

» Nov. 21, 1964: New York City’s Verrazano Narrows Bridge opens, measuring 60 feet longer than the Golden Gate Bridge’s 4,200-foot-long suspension span, making it the world’slongest suspension span.

» July 17, 1981: The Humber Bridge in England, spanning the Humber River, opens for traffic with a main span of 4,626 feet.

» Dec. 23, 1982: High winds of up to 70 mph close the bridge for almost two hours.

» Dec. 3, 1983: High winds close the bridge for the longest period in its history, 3 hours and 27 minutes. Wind gusts reach 75 mph, but the bridge suffers no structural damage.

» May 24, 1987: The Golden Gate Bridge turns 50 years old. The day begins as “Bridgewalk 87,” a re-enactment of “Pedestrian Day 37.” It is estimated that nearly 300,000 people surged onto the roadway, causing the usual graceful arc of the span to visibly flatten from the weight.

» Today: Bridge marks 70 years as automotive link between San Francisco and Marin counties.

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