San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

Here’s the cure for the common tour:  San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge!  We wanted to walk the bridge for the views and photo opportunities but struck gold when we discovered the free, walking tours offered through sfcityguides.org.

Golden Gate Bridge-San Francisco California

Golden Gate Bridge-San Francisco California

I can’t say enough good things about this organization and especially the knowledgeable guide for the Golden Gate Bridge!  As we walked onto the bridge, the volunteer guide captivated the audience with stories of  the days before the bridge and the obstacles of the construction.  We learned about engineering and the feats required to construct a bridge amidst the fierce currents and tides.  Up close and personal, we could touch the same rivets as the builders and marvel at the magnitude of the structure.  We reached the center span of the bridge and had time to pause and absorb the view.  (At this point, the official tour ends and we had the choice to turn back or walk the remainder of the bridge – we walked)

Center Span Golden Gate Bridge

Center Span Golden Gate Bridge

The date of January 5, 1933 marked the beginning of the construction project that became one of America’s most famous landmarks: the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge in California.  The work resulted in a magnificent suspension bridge with just under a mile of sturdy steel and amazing views of the Golden Gate Strait, where the San Francisco Bay opens into the Pacific Ocean.This era would not have been considered the ideal time for bridge building.  National unemployment was at 25%, peaking at that rate during the Great Depression.  But Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as the 32nd U.S. President and the New Deal was launched.  America was preparing for recovery.  Workers came from afar to earn their pay working on the bridge.

San Francisco view

San Francisco view

Building the bridge provided alternative transportation to the ferry boats commuting between San Francisco and the lands to the north of the waters.  At the time, the task seemed impossible.  The engineering required the largest underwater foundation piers ever build.  The bridge is noted for the distinctive “international orange” color, which is visible to passing ships even through the legendary fog of the region. The Golden Gate Bridge, featuring a modern art deco design symbolic of the time, was completed in four years. With 200,000 people attending the bridge opening on May 27, 1937, The Golden Gate held the title as the world’s longest suspension bridge until 1964.

Free Walking Tour

Free Walking Tour

Note that organization donations are graciously accepted by the sfcityguides.org volunteers at the end of the tour.