The Golden Gate Bridge, a symbol of the San Francisco Bay Area, is more than a means of transportation between the city of San Francisco and Marin County to the north.
Since its completion in 1937 at a cost of $27 million after four years of building, the bridge has appeared in cinema (“The Maltese Falcon” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”) and poetry (“The Changing Light” by beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti) and contributed to local mythology.
And yet it is a functioning bridge, with around 200 personnel working around the clock to maintain the bridge for the daily crossing of more than 100,000 automobiles, as well as walkers, bikers, and passengers on the bridge’s ferries and buses.
There is as much life beneath and around the bridge as there is moving over it, from the engineers, ironworkers, and electricians who maintain it to the painters who keep it painted in International Orange.
“You have those wonderful days out here when it’s 75 degrees and clear, and you can see the Farallons (islands), Alcatraz, and the entire city,” says bridge painter Brian Russell.
“If we have a work on the wires, you get to stroll the cables and are thinking, ‘you know what, I have a pretty great job.’
Ironworker Darren McVeigh enjoys seeing the sunrise and set over the bridge. “When the moon is hidden behind the bridge in the morning, the view is spectacular, as are the quiet, pure skies. It’s really a lovely, lovely sight “‘He stated. “The thing I enjoy the most is just being able to claim that I work on the Golden Gate Bridge. I adore being out here.”
We spent an entire day going into and around the bridge, uncovering these ten secrets from those who know and love it the most.
1. How did the Golden Gate Bridge get its name? This is hardly a golden age.
“The Golden Gate Bridge is named after the Golden Gate Strait,” explained Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, spokesman for the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, which operates the bridge.
“It is a three-mile-long, one-mile-wide body of water that links the Pacific Ocean with San Francisco Bay.
“Since the mid-nineteenth century, the bridge had been an idea, but many believed it was impossible to build. The seas were just too harsh and deep.”
2. What shade of blue is the bridge? It appears to be red.
It is not red, however, you are not insane to believe that it is. Visitors “all refer to it as red,” Russell explained.
Back in the day, the US Navy, which was then a part of the War Department, supervised the waterways and desired to paint this bridge black and yellow to resemble a bumblebee for increased visibility, according to fellow painter Jarrod Bauer.
When the bridge was built in the 1930s, the steel used to create it was coated with red lead. Irving and Gertrude Morrow, a husband-and-wife architectural partnership, appreciated the contrast of the hue against the environment here, Bauer explained.
They ultimately mixed paint to produce the hue International Orange, which resembles red lead, he explained.
“When we’re on this site, folks will ask us to paint their shoes or coats,” Russell explained. “They’re all asking, ‘Can you paint me?'”
3. Is it permissible to paint my house the same color?
Are you certain you want to? We cannot anticipate how your family, much alone your neighbors, will respond to International Orange, but you can. Copy the paint recipe from the bridge’s website – it’s free! – and bring it to your neighborhood paint store.
“Download the color matrix or scheme and take it to your local paint store to have it mixed for you,” Cosulich-Schwartz advises. “International Orange, you may paint whatever you like.”
4. Is the bridge completely repainted each year?
Nope, and it is not necessary.
True, the topcoat has been completely redone with fresh and ecologically friendly International Orange top coatings throughout time.
However, Bauer noted that certain areas have not been scraped to bare metal and thoroughly repainted.
5. What subject matter is painted?
Every two years, the bridge’s experts check every inch of the structure, according to Cosulich-Schwartz. “That generates a work plan for where we need to paint” and do other necessary repairs to keep the bridge in excellent operating order.
After developing a work plan based on those checks, the painters know where to paint next. The ironworkers on the bridge will next erect scaffolding to establish the job site. They provide containment spaces in which painters may change into and out of protective gear. Additionally, the zones prevent pollutants from reaching the general population, which frequently travels just a few feet from the job site.
That is when the painters begin sandblasting the area to be painted in order to completely remove any existing paint. The area is then primed to a 10-milliliter thickness, followed by an intermediate coat and two topcoats. (This process might take months, depending on the area’s size.)
6.How long is the pain going to last?
For the most part, Bauer stated, “we’re expecting to get 25 to 30 years out of this paint job.”
It depends on the section of the bridge being painted and the degree to which it is exposed to the weather. “There are sections of the bridge that still have lead paint on them and do not require painting,” Bauer explained. “Lead paint was an excellent paint in terms of maintaining the paint’s integrity.”
7. What is that strange noise I hear on cloudy days?
It’s the bridge’s distinctive ring tone, generated by four fog horns blasting 165 decibels of sound with 80 pounds of air pressure. With a range of up to six miles, it is triggered when visibility of the bridge is impaired for ships’ workers.
Naturally, this is a backup plan: Ships have their own GPS systems, and specially experienced local ship pilots guide the huge cargo ships across the strait. However, no one wants to risk the harm that huge ships may cause to the bridge.
“The fog may be so dense here that you can’t see more than 15 feet ahead of you,” said Aaron Kozlowski, chief operating engineer for the bridge. “The foghorn remains on throughout that predetermined sequence until we signal it off until a staff here detects and says, ‘Hey, the fog has cleared.'”
The bridge personnel attempted to activate the fog horns using automated mechanisms, but the salt air destroyed the apparatus.
8. Who is responsible for bridge rescues?
That is the job of McVeigh and his fellow ironworkers, the so-called “Cowboys of the Sky.” McVeigh has lost track of the number of damaged people he has rescued over the last 17 years.
If citizens refuse to listen to police officials, they dispatch ironworkers to go over the rail and apprehend them. “We’ll throw up a high line, tie off, and cross the rail, and then carefully approach them and begin conversing with them in an attempt to entice them back over the fence.”
McVeigh will shortly get assistance.
In September 2018, the Golden Gate Bridge began construction of a suicide deterrent device, dubbed the safety net, to discourage individuals from leaping over the bridge. While it is intended to catch those attempting to leap off, its very existence acts as a deterrent, according to bridge officials.
It is scheduled for completion in 2021.
9. Is there poetry on the bridge?
Indeed, it has two, both of which were authored by Joseph P. Strauss, who submitted early plans for the Golden Gate Bridge in 1921 and served as chief engineer during construction. He was there at the bridge’s formal inauguration to car traffic on May 28, 1937, but died the following May in Los Angeles of coronary thrombosis.
After the bridge was completed, he penned “The Mighty Task is Complete” and “The Golden Gate Bridge.”
If you stop by the bridge
This is hardly a secret: if you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, it’s simple to walk or bike across the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s also enjoyable to take the ferry over the strait, which is likewise managed by the Golden Gate Bridge. (Just stay away from rush hour.)
National Park Service enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to Crissy Field to locate the bridge and play in the grassy area, which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Location, the country’s second most visited NPS area last year.
The Presidio, a former military facility turned National Park Service property, features farm-to-table food. Chef Traci Des Jardin has established The Commissary, a Spanish-influenced restaurant with chief chef Eric Minnich. (In honor of the bridge, the International Orange cocktail combines gin, rosé, Pamplemousse, grapefruit bitters, and soda.)