Golden Gate Bridge
Once called "the bridge that couldn't be built," today it is one the seven wonders of the modern world. This magnificent span, perhaps San Francisco's most famous landmark, opened in 1937 after a four-year struggle against relentless winds, fog, rock and treacherous tides.
Crossing the strait of the Golden Gate from San Francisco to the Marin headlands for 1.7 miles is the world-renowned Golden Gate Bridge, easily identified by its International Orange color. Opened in 1937, the bridge was built at a cost of $35 million in principal and $39 million in interest and 11 workers’ lives. The single-suspension span is anchored by twin towers that reach skyward 746 feet, and was once taller than any building in San Francisco. To support the suspended roadway, two cables, each more than 7,000 feet in length and both containing 80,000 miles of wire stretch over the top of the towers and are rooted in concrete anchorages on shore. More than 10 years in planning due to formidable opposition, but only four years in actual construction, the Golden Gate Bridge brought the communities of San Francisco and Marin counties closer together.
General Visitor Info
Pedestrians including wheelchair users and bicyclists can go on the sidewalks of the bridge during daylight hours but roller blades, skateboards and roller skates are not permitted. There are vista points on both north and south sides of the bridge with parking lots. For information on sidewalk closures due to construction, visit goldengatebridge.org/bikesbridge/bikes.php.
If you can’t visit the bridge in person, do the virtual bridge walk and don’t forget to check out the view from the top of the south tower. Because of heavy congestion on the bridge, vista points may occasionally be closed to vehicles.
How to Get There
From downtown, take #38 Geary Boulevard to Park Presidio and transfer to #28 northbound to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. If you’re taking Golden Gate Transit from San Francisco, the #10, #70 or #80 lines will take you to the bridge.
Where to Stay
If you are planning to stay in San Francisco, there are plenty of hotels nearby or with views of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Get more information on the neighborhoods here.
One of the most photographed landmarks in the world, the Golden Gate Bridge is an Instagram hit whenever it’s posted (#goldengatebridge, #thatsfbridge).Here are a few favorite angles and best time of day:
Under the bridge angle from Fort Point site also affords unusual afternoon view of the city skyline from Fort Point Pier immediately east of the seawall.
From Baker Beach, get an outside-the-gate view of the bridge and the Marin headlands.
Golden Gate Bridge with the city skyline in the background from Marin headlands north of bridge; take Alexander Avenue turnoff and follow Golden Gate National Recreation Area signs leading under Hwy. 101 south toward San Francisco; take first turn up to headlands.
For minimalists, point your smartphone upwards to get soaring close-ups of the towers and cables. Local photographer Louis Raphael who photographs the bridge almost daily from his Lands End neighborhood also offers these favorites:
- Beginning or very end of Lands End trail at sunrise has two very scenic vista points. Note: Visitors should adhere to all signage in the park and even in approved hiking areas, the public should keep a safe distance from all cliff edges
- Mile Rock beach at sunset or sunrise has a unique perspective of the Golden Gate Bridge.
How Long is the Golden Gate Bridge?
The Golden Gate Bridge is 8,981 feet long.
How Tall is the Golden Gate Bridge?
The Golden Gate Bridge is 746 feet tall.
Did You Know?
- The Golden Gate Bridge has lost 7,500 tons (in weight) since it opened in 1937.
- It is estimated that 5,000 - 10,000 gallons of paint are used to repaint the Golden Gate Bridge each year.
- Three babies have been born on the Golden Gate Bridge. All of them have been boys.
- The name came from the fact that the Golden Gate Strait (named by John Fremont) is the entrance into San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
- International Orange was selected as the color of the bridge because it provided visibility in the fog for passing ships and also because it was a color that fit in naturally with the bridge’s setting and the surrounding land area.
- The bridge has only been closed three times due to weather since it was built; all three times due to high winds gusting close to or over 70 miles per hour.
- The bridge has also been closed for visits from dignitaries President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Charles de Gaulle of France and also on its 50th and 75th Anniversaries.
Movies that included the Golden Gate Bridge:
Big Hero 6 (2014)
Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
Monsters Vs. Aliens (2009)
X-Men: The Last Stand (2006)
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
The Core (2003)
The Rock (1996)
Interview with a Vampire (1994)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
The Abyss (1989)
Big Trouble in Little China (1986)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
A View to a Kill (1985)
Basic Instinct (1982)
Dirty Harry (1971)
The Birds (1963)
The Maltese Falcon (1941)
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Why Golden Gate? The History Behind the Name
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14 Little Known Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge to Impress Your Friends
Movies Featuring the Golden Gate Bridge
How to Go Over, Under and Above the Golden Gate Bridge
Why Fort Point Needs to Be Added to Your San Francisco Bucket List
Great Spots to View the Golden Gate Bridge
Experience a San Francisco Sunrise from the Marin Headlands - 360 Video
Photo by Louis Raphael