The Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public in 1937 and quickly established itself as one of the most recognizable bridges in the world.
We’re pretty fond of San Francisco here at GoCar tours and love sharing our city with visitors from around the world. So, we compiled twelve of our favorite interesting facts about the Golden Gate Bridge.
From its name to its deadly history, its color to the records it broke and everything in between, this fascinating step back in time is an essential read before you see it for yourself.
Prepare for your trip to this iconic San Francisco site with twelve Golden Gate Bridge fun facts that just might surprise you!
1. The Golden Gate Bridge Was Completed Ahead of Schedule
This truly has to be one of the most surprising Golden Gate Bridge facts. Even though construction began during the Great Depression, it still finished under budget and ahead of schedule! Work began in January of 1933 and ended in 1937, concluding the massive project in only four years.
2. The Golden Gate Bridge Replaced a Thriving Ferry Service
Here’s a Golden Gate Bridge fun fact for you: before the bridge was completed, the people of San Francisco had to travel to Marin County by boat! This ferry service began in the 1820’s and transported passengers, cars, and more for over 100 years until the Golden Gate Bridge was built.
3. The Golden Gate Bridge Gets Its Name From a Not-So-Surprising Origin
The bridge is named after the Golden Gate Strait, which is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
But how did the strait get this name?
In 1846 an American topographer felt that the strait reminded him of a Byzantium harbor known as “Golden Horn,” and thus the name was bestowed.
4. The Golden Gate Bridge Has a Deadly History
Although this isn’t the most cheerful on our list of Golden Gate Bridge fun facts, it’s one that every visitor should know.
When the bridge was built in the 1930s, safety measures weren’t quite as stringent as they are now. Steps were taken to ensure the workers safety but not all accidents could be prevented.
A safety net was suspended under the bridge to catch workers who fell and although it successfully saved 19 men, 11 weren’t so lucky and unfortunately lost their lives.
5. The Golden Gate Bridge Broke Records
When it was built, the Golden Gate Bridge spanned 4,200 feet and staked its claim as the longest suspension bridge in the world.
This is one of the most interesting facts about the Golden Gate Bridge because it held this record until 1964. That’s over 25 years!
In 1964, it was finally surpassed by the Verrazzano Bridge in New York City. Now, the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge in Japan holds the coveted title.
6. The Famous Orange That Almost Wasn’t
Ask anyone what color the Golden Gate Bridge is, and most can tell you the answer. No, it’s not gold, but instead a deep and beautiful orange.
However, we dug deep into our resources of Golden Gate Bridge fun facts to discover the original plan was to paint it black and yellow! The Navy proposed this color scheme to help make the bridge easily visible for passing ships, especially in San Francisco’s famous fog.
Luckily, designer Irving Morrow chose “international orange” instead because it fits better with the bridge’s surroundings while still offering excellent visibility.
7. Experts Thought It Couldn’t Be Done
In the 1930’s, San Francisco was the largest American city still being served primarily by ferries and was experiencing stunted growth from their lack of connection to the rest of the state. The city was in dire need of a solution.
Before the Golden Gate Bridge was built, the longest suspension bridge in the world was only 3,501 feet, 699 feet shorter than the proposed project. This coupled with strong winds and deep waters in the San Francisco Bay made the bridge a risky venture, but visionaries Michael M. O’Shaughnessy and Joseph B. Strauss forged ahead with their plans and proved successful in the end.
8. Construction Cost How Much?!
By the time construction on the bridge was completed, it racked up a total cost of $35 million. Adjusted for inflation, those numbers climb to well over $607 million today. That’s one expensive bridge!
9. Only 2 Men Were Important Enough to Shut Down It Down
One of our favorite Golden Gate Bridge fun facts is actually about when it wasn’t in use. Although it’s been closed for repairs and weather-related concerns, only two men in history have been important enough to have the entire bridge shut down for them.
Can you guess who they were?
The first was President Franklin D. Roosevelt (better know as FDR) and the second was for French President Charles de Gaulle.
Oh, and two black-tailed deer also shut down the bridge in 2014 when they decided to cross it during the busy evening commute!
10. Opening Day Was Quite the Spectacle
FDR was the president in 1937 when the Golden Gate Bridge was completed, so he had the honor of announcing its opening. Although he didn’t travel all the way out to San Francisco, opening day was still quite the spectacle.
When FDR pressed the telegraph key in his office, “every fire siren in San Francisco and Marin was sounded, every church bell rang, ships sounded their whistles, and every fog horn blew.”
11. Over 1 Billion People Have Used the Golden Gate Bridge…
And the billionth user crossed it in 1985!
Many visitors in San Francisco are surprised by these Golden Gate Bridge facts, but the bridge has gotten a lot of use in its lifetime.
In February 1985, the one-billionth car was recorded and the driver was even given a hard hat and a case of champagne to celebrate the occasion. Now, that milestone has been left in the dust and the bridge reports that 112,000 vehicles cross it every day.
12. It’s the 9th “Most Instagrammed” Attraction in the US
Last (but certainly not least) on our list of Golden Gate Bridge fun facts comes from a Globehunters study.
The travel agency found that the Golden Gate Bridge was tagged in over 2 million pictures on Instagram, making it the 9th most popular US destination on the app. Disneyland, another iconic California attraction, came in on top with over 8 million tagged posts.
Visit the Golden Gate Bridge With GoCar Tours
Are you eager for more Golden Gate Bridge fun facts? GoCar offers seven San Francisco tours to fit any itinerary or budget. With most starting at the Fisherman’s Wharf, getting to the Golden Gate Bridge with us is now easier than ever.
GoCar tours are the best way to see the city because they let you explore at your own pace, while a location-based guide shares facts and information about every site you pass by. Start your tour armed with these 12 Golden Gate Bridge fun facts and come out an expert on all things San Francisco.
Learn more about GoCar and book your tour today!