The need to connect San Francisco with Marin County, USA, always existed, since travelers were compelled to use ferry boats to cross the San Francisco Bay. However, it did not seem possible at the time to bridge the 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) wide strait that was 113 meters (371 feet) deep at its center and was lashed by swirling tides, fast currents, and strong winds.
The idea to build such a bridge came from an article written by a former engineering student, James Wilkins in ‘San Francisco Bulletin’ of 1916. Its estimated cost of $100 million was too much to afford. However, a bridge engineer, Joseph Strauss, quoted $17 million and got the green signal to build it. But it was the graceful suspension design of Leon Moisseiff, the engineer of New York City’s Manhattan Bridge, that finally got approved.
Irving Morrow, a residential architect, designed the bridge towers, lighting scheme, decorative elements and gave it it’s signature international orange color. However, the final shape of the bridge was given by Charles Elton Ellis, a senior engineer, in collaboration with Moisseiff.
The work on the bridge commenced on January 5, 1933, by McClintic-Marshall Construction Co. and finished in 1937. It was completed ahead of schedule and cost over $35 million. In terms of human lives, it took a toll of 11 workers due to falls. The toll would have been higher had it not been for the safety net, the brainchild of Strauss, that saved many lives.
The final shape of Golden Gate Bridge turned out to be so stunning that it has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. This most photographed bridge in the world’s longest and tallest one in the world, stretching 2.7 kilometers (1.6 miles) in length and 227 meters (745 feet) in height.