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6.17.2007 - 39 comments 

Well, like they say... "there is no place like home" and even though it is great to get away and be able to travel to beautiful parts of the world, it still always feels good just to come home too. Our trip was quite remarkable and even though at times I would have preferred a little clearer skies and a little less traffic, but all in all, it was still an incredible trip.

As always, I took a lot of pictures that I hope to share over the next several posts or so. But, this first post is of one on the most recognizable bridges in the world, that being the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. I took this shot from an area close to where the world famous Cliff House is located on Highway 1. It was a very windy day and the water was choppy, but I still like the fact that I was to be able to see almost the whole expanse of the bridge.

As for the history of San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, the bridge was completed after more than four years of construction at a cost of $35 million. It is a visitor attraction recognized around the world. The GGB opened to vehicular traffic on May 28, 1937 at twelve o'clock noon, ahead of schedule and under budget, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in the White House announcing the event.

The Golden Gate Bridge's 4,200 foot long main suspension span was a world record that stood for 27 years. The bridge's two towers rise 746 feet making them 191 feet taller than the Washington Monument. The five lane bridge crosses Golden Gate Strait which is about 400 feet, or 130 meters, deep.

Construction of the bridge took four and one-half years and the work began on January 5, 1933. The resulting span has been much admired for its magnitude and its graceful beauty. At mid-span the bridge is 220 feet above the waters of the Golden Gate; it is about a mile across and there is only one pier in the water which, incidentally, was built under most discouraging circumstances, as Engineer Joseph Baerman Strauss the bridge's builder could testify.

This pier is only 1,125 feet from shore; the distance between the two towers that support the cables which, in turn, support the floor of the bridge, is 4,200 feet. These two cables are 361/2 inches in diameter, the largest bridge cables ever made. Each cable is 7,659 feet long and contains 27,572 parallel wires, enough to encircle the world more than three times at the equator. Fortunately, solid rock was found at each end of the Gate and huge pockets were excavated in this rock to form a setting for the concrete anchorage blocks, each of which contains 30,000 cubic yards of concrete.

Among the engineering problems that had to be faced in the building of the bridge were those that arose from the exposed nature of any such structure, for it has to withstand winds and gales coming from the often far from peaceful Pacific Ocean. It was so designed that, in the most unlikely event of a broadside wind coming at it with a speed of one hundred miles an hour, the bridge floor at mid span might swing as much as 27 feet.

The Brooklyn Bridge, (completed 54 years earlier in 1883) and designed by wire rope patent holder John A. Roebling, was the first famous suspension bridge. It helped to define and add fame to New York City in much the same way that the Golden Gate Bridge has for San Francisco.

Linking San Francisco with Marin County the Golden Gate Bridge is a 1.7 mile-long suspension bridge that can be crossed by car, on bicycles or on foot. The toll currently on the Golden Gate Bridge increased to $5.00/4.00 FasTrak on September 1, 2002. There are no carpool lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge. But when you leave the city you don't have to pay, it is only when you are coming back into the city that the take the $5.00 from you.

Joseph Baerman Strauss (1870-1938), a distinguished engineer with many bridges to his credit, had dreamed of raising a span across the Golden Gate. One who contemplates his many activities realizes that Strauss was much more than merely a competent structural engineer, although he certainly was that: he was also a poet, a seer, and a man of vision and it seems that all these qualities sustained him in the fulfillment of his dream; it is equally certain that he had to live with the skepticism of his peers who kept repeating that “Strauss will never build his bridge, no one can bridge the Golden Gate because of insurmountable difficulties which are apparent to all who give thought to the idea.” ~ Stauss's contemporaries

Though Strauss only lived a year beyond completion of construction he disproved the conventional wisdom of his time.