Key Dates in Bridge District History
1846: Captain John Fremont declares California’s independence from Mexico and names the mile-wide entrance to the San Francisco Bay as Chrysopylae, which means Golden Gate in Greek.
1849: The population of San Francisco explodes after gold is discovered in northern California. Once a village called Yerba Buena with a population of about 400, San Francisco is now a city of 35,000.
1868: Regular ferry service links San Francisco and Sausalito in Marin County with the ferry vessel Princess. Land speculators claimed that Marin County real estate would increase in value due to its proximity to San Francisco. The ferry vessel Princess was owned by Sausalito Land and Ferry Company which gave free ferry passes to anyone that bought a lot in Sausalito.
1869: Joshua Norton arrived in San Francisco in 1849. He is the son of an industrious London merchant and is determined to build a fortune in San Francisco. By 1869, a gone mad and bankrupted Gold Rush merchant, he declares himself Norton I, Emperor of the United States, and begins issuing decrees. San Franciscans tolerate him. He is the first to call publicly for the construction of bridges across the San Francisco Bay. He reigned as Emperor Norton until his death in 1880.
January 1870: Joseph Baermann Strauss is born in Cincinnati, Ohio.
1872: Railroad executive and entrepreneur Charles Crocker announces to the Marin County Board of Supervisors that Central Pacific Railroad engineers had prepared plans and cost estimates for a suspension bridge crossing the Golden Gate Strait that would also carry rail cars.
1872: Bridge designer and theorist Leon Moisseiff is born in Latvia.
1876: Charles Alton Ellis, the engineer who will one day be instrumental in the design calculations for the Golden Gate Bridge, is born in Maine.
April 18, 1906: San Francisco is devastated by a massive earthquake and fire.
1915: The Panama Pacific International Exposition opens in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal (a year after it opened).
1916: James H. Wilkins, a former structural engineer and then newspaper editor for the San Francisco Call Bulletin, proposes a design for spanning the Golden Gate Strait. His articles generate some interest, but World War I differed further progress towards a bridge across the Strait.
1918: Late in the year, Richard Welch, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, requests Congress to authorize that the federal government take soundings in the Golden Gate Strait, specifically in the channel separating the Marin peninsula and the Presidio in San Francisco.
1919: San Francisco Board of Supervisors tell San Francisco City Engineer Michael O’Shaughnessy to proceed with the study of the feasibility of a bridge across the Golden Gate Strait.
January 1920: San Francisco City Engineer Michael O'Shaughnessy requests the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey to make soundings of the channel bottom. The U.S.S. Natoma completes the sounding of the channel in May 1920.
May 1920: O'Shaughnessy receives the Natoma's survey data. O'Shaughnessy consults engineers from around the country about feasibility and cost. Many say it cannot be done, and if it can be the cost would exceed $100 million. O’Shaughnessy writes a letter to three prominent engineers: Joseph B. Strauss in Chicago; Francis C. McMath, president of the Canadian Bridge and Iron Company in Detroit and leader in the construction of the Quebec Bridge; and Gustav Lindenthal, the man who engineered the 1,000-foot Hell Gate Arch over New York's East River in 1916. Strauss, who has designed nearly 400 spans, claims a bridge can be built, and it can be built for $25 to $30 million.
June 28, 1921: Joseph B. Strauss, working with his staff in Chicago, develops a hybrid structure with cantilever side spans with a suspension bridge between the ends of the two cantilevers. He submits preliminary sketches to O'Shaugnessy with a cost estimate of $27 million (Note: this cost estimate varies depending on the source from $17 million to $27 million).
December 27, 1921: Strauss applies for a patent on the hybrid cantilever-suspension bridge plan with the US Patent Office. The patent (#1,453,084) is granted on April 24, 1923.
1922: Michael O'Shaughnessy, Joseph B. Strauss, and Edward Rainey, a mayoral aide, propose the creation of a special political entity for the Golden Gate Bridge project.
1922: Strauss adds Charles Ellis, professor of structural and bridge engineering at the University of Illinois, to his staff.
December 7, 1922: Almost a year and a half after receiving Strauss's preliminary sketches, O'Shaughnessy makes the Strauss design public. (Note: this date reference is also listed as June 1922 as the date O’Shaughnessy presents the plan to the San Francisco City Council).
January 13, 1923 (we have seen this date published as January 15 also): An organization meeting of Bridging the Golden Gate Association, which was formed to promote Strauss’ plans for a bridge, is held in Santa Rosa, CA.
May 25, 1923: The California legislature passes the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District Act of California which was introduced by Senator Frank Coombs of Napa. The Association of Bridging the Gate is empowered to create a district to build the bridge.
Spring 1924: As the owner of the land on both sides of the Golden Gate Strait, the federal War Department is the only entity that can authorize construction. San Francisco and Marin counties make a joint application to the War Department for a permit to build the Bridge.
May 16, 1924: Strauss submits his plans to the War Department for review. War Department officials are concerned about the possibility of a bridge hindering navigation and if adequate financing is available to build a bridge.
December 24, 1924: Secretary of War John W. Weeks issues a temporary construction permit for the Bridge. (Note: This date is also listed in some records as December 20, 1924).
1925: Strauss has Ellis send the hybrid cantilever-suspension bridge plans to two prominent engineers: George Swan at Harvard, and Leon Moisseiff, New York City for review. That same year, Strauss asks Moisseiff to submit to him a plan for a conventional suspension bridge.
December 4, 1928: The Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District is incorporated as the entity to finance, design, and construct the Bridge. The District consists of San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma, Del Norte, and parts of Mendocino and Napa counties.
January 23, 1929: The Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District meet for the first time. William P. Filmer is elected president and Robert H. Trumbull of Marin county is elected vice president. Also, Alan MacDonald of San Rafael is appointed as general manager, W.W. Felt, Jr. of Santa Rosa is named secretary, John R. Ruckstell of San Francisco is named auditor, and George Harlan of Sausalito is appointed attorney.
August 15, 1929: Joseph B. Strauss is appointed by the Board of Directors as chief engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge. Leon S. Moisseiff, O. H. Amman, and Charles Derleth, Jr. are named consulting engineers. Some sources show these appointments were also made on this date: Clifford E. Paine is named chief assistance engineer and Irving F. Morrow consulting architect.
October 29, 1929: The stock market crashes and the Great Depression begins.
December 9, 1929: Two dedication ceremonies were held to mark the start of borings for the Golden Gate Bridge tower piers at Fort Scott in San Francisco starting at 1pm, and two hours later on the Marin County side. Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss stated, “ This is a day of big projects, and the building of the Golden Gate Bridge ranks among the biggest. But, while we can scarcely exaggerate its importance, we must not exaggerate its difficulty. Building the structure, after all, is a simple engineering operation, every detail of which has been checked and calculated in advance. If praise is deserved by any, it is the men whose patience and enthusiasm made it possible for building to start…” San Francisco Supervisor Gallagher presided on the San Francisco side and Harry J. Ridgway, President of Marvelous Marin, Inc. presided on the Marin side.
March 1, 1930: After overseeing test boring in San Francisco, Charles Ellis returns to Strauss Engineering offices in Chicago to start the preliminary design. Working long hours, and consulting via telegram with Leon S. Moisseiff in New York, Ellis computes dozens of factors involved in the Bridge design.
March 12, 1930: Joseph Strauss presented this Report of Chief Engineer to the Board of Directors, for the period February 19 to March 12, 1930.
Summer 1930: Strauss hires a local architect, Irving Morrow, to design an architectural treatment for the Bridge. Morrow will later be recognized for his aesthetic contributions – the Golden Gate Bridge's distinctive Art Deco lines, burnt red-orange hue, and the structure's dramatic lighting.
August 11, 1930: The War Department issues a final permit for the construction of a suspension bridge with a 4,200-foot main span, a vertical clearance of 220 feet at midspan and a 210-foot clearance at the sidespans.
August 27, 1930: Joseph B. Strauss submits his final plans for the Golden Gate Bridge to the District Board of Directors.
November 4, 1930: Voters from the six counties that comprise the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District agree to a $35 million bond issue, using their homes, farms, vineyards, and business properties as collateral to support the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. The vote is 145,657 in favor and 46,954 against.
February 1931: Consulting Geologist A. E. Sedgwick publishes a Foundations of the Golden Gate Bridge report on a study to determine the competency of the foundation rock under the north and south peirs to carry an average load of 13 tons and maximum load of 18 tons per square foot.
July 8, 1931: Lump sum bids received for the construction of the principal items of the Golden Gate Bridge show that the project can be completed within the estimated cost of $35 million.
December 22, 1932: The contract for the Marin tower pier commences with the construction of a 1,700-foot-long road from the end of the existing road at Fort Baker to the location of the Marin tower pier, near the Lime Point Lighthouse.
January 5, 1933: Official start of Golden Gate Bridge construction.
January 1933 to June 1933: It took 6 months to build the Marin (north) tower pier.
January 1933 to May 1935: The San Francisco (south) anchorage was constructed.
January 1933 to June 1935: Marin (north) anchorage was constructed.
February 1933: Work begins on the east approach road through The Presidio.
February 15, 1933: Russell G. Cone is appointed resident engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge project.
February 26, 1933: The official ground breaking ceremony for the Golden Gate Bridge takes place at Crissy Field starting at 2 pm with a parade.
August 14, 1933: The McCormick Steamship Line’s Sidney M. Hauptman, outbound to Portland, plowed through the thick fog and crashed into the newly completed access trestle extending 1,100 feet out into the Golden Gate Strait waters from the San Francisco shore, ready to start construction of the San Francisco tower fender.
October 31, 1933: Construction of 5 of 22 sections of the San Francisco tower fender were completed when disaster struck the access trestle again. Swells from a Pacific storm battered the trestle and 3 of the 5 completed fender sections were swallowed up along with the end of the access trestle and the construction equipment.
November 7, 1933: Steel plates laid at the Marin pier marking the start of the Marin tower construction.
December 13, 1933: As a southwest gale beat the Bay Area for two days, the access trestle for the San Francisco tower fender construction was again battered; this time there was 800 feet of wreckage done to the access trestle.
April 1934: Ray Strong’s panoramic depiction of the Golden Gate Bridge under construction pays tribute to the feat of engineering required to span the Golden Gate Strait. Read more at the Smithsonian American Art Museum website: http://americanart.si.edu/collections/search/artwork/?id=23442.
May 1934: The Golden Gate Bridge & Highway District organization chart lists Board of Directors and staff.
June 28, 1934: Marin tower was topped off; it was not completed and ready for cable spinning until November 1934 as noted below.
October 24, 1934: San Francisco fender wall completed.
November 1934: Marin tower completed. From page 152, Golden Gate Bridge, Report of the Chief Engineer, 1937.
November 27, 1934: The San Francisco fender wall is unwatered. “The wall was found to be remarkably tight, and very little pumping was needed to keep the bottom dry.” From page 145, Golden Gate Bridge, Report of the Chief Engineer, 1937.
January 8, 1935: The San Francisco pier was completed and the steel erector was in place, ready to begin construction of the San Francisco tower. From page 152, Golden Gate Bridge, Report of the Chief Engineer, 1937.
June 24, 1935: San Francisco tower completed in just six months.
August 1, 1935: For the first time since constructed started, on August 2, 1935, the Golden Gate Strait was to be closed to shipping. Shipping was to be held up for 15 minutes while bridge workers strung the first tramway cable between the San Francisco and Marin towers as part of the operations to ready the span for the construction of footwalks (catwalks) that had to be constructed before cable spinning could begin. Shipping would be held while a barge sunk a one-inch cable to the 350-foot bottom and the cable was hoisted into the air between the towers. Information is from the San Francisco News, August 1, 1935.
September 27, 1935: Catwalks (aka footwalks) completed in readiness for main cable spinning to begin.
March 19, 1936: Start of construction of the Marin (north) approach viaduct structures.
May 20, 1936: According to the San Rafael Independent, the main cable spinning process was completed with the last cable wire going into place--next, the main cables would undergo cable compression, and already six cable compressors were loaded on the dock at Lime Point in readiness to start the operation.
May 22, 1936: Spinning of the two main cables is completed.
June 18, 1936: Start of the construction of the main suspended structure. From page 176, Golden Gate Bridge, Report of the Chief Engineer, 1937, by Joseph B. Strauss.
July 12, 1936: Start of the construction of the Fort Point Arch.
July 21, 1936: Start of the construction of the San Francisco (south) approach viaduct structures.
August 31, 1936: Safety net added under the suspended structure construction zone.
September 11, 1936: Per the Sausalito News, with the resumption of the erection of the suspended structures of the Golden Gate Bridge, the employment roll rose past the 1000 mark – the most at one time since construction started.
October 21, 1936: A travelling derrick toppled, killing Kermit Moore the first man to die on the Bridge project.
November 20, 1936 (this has also been cited as occurring on November 18 and 19, 1936): The two sections of the Golden Gate Bridge's main span were joined. A brief and informal ceremony marked the occasion when groups from San Francisco and Marin met and exchanged remarks at the center of the span. Major Thomas L. McKenna, Catholic Chaplin of Fort Scott, blessed the span while sprinkling holy water. The November 20 date is noted on page 178 of Golden Gate Bridge, Report of the Chief Engineer, 1937.
February 17, 1937: 10 men lost their lives. While removing scaffolding from the underside of the roadway structure ten tons of timber tilted and fell into the safety net. There were 13 men on the scaffolding – one was able to jump off the net to a girder, 12 went down, 2 lived and 10 perished in the waters below.
March 14, 1937: As reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, blame for the February 17 accident (noted above) in which 10 workmen lost their lives was assigned to two entities by an investigating committee appointed by the San Francisco Building Trades Council. One was that of the Pacific Bridge Company, which the committee says failed to heed warnings by State officials that the scaffold, which fell 250 feet into the bay, carrying the men to their deaths, was dangerous. The other was Chief Engineer Joseph B. Strauss, who was criticized for failure to prevent use of the scaffold. The investigating committee reported that warnings by the Industrial Accident Commission's Inspectors were not heeded and "inexperienced laborers, ignorant of the hazard, were used to move the scaffold," the committee stated. "It is the duty of Engineer Strauss to enforce terms of contracts. The affidavits of our brother workmen and the statements of Engineer Strauss, who, it is reported, will receive $1,000,000 for his services, show that Engineer Strauss failed to enforce the contracts in such manner as to prevent the use of the dangerous scaffolding."
April 19, 1937: Paving of the roadway deck is completed.
April 27, 1937: The Last Rivet Ceremony - A ceremony of completion was held at midspan. . With hundreds of on lookers, ironworker Edward “Iron Horse” Stanley, the man who had driven the first rivet on the Bridge, took his rivet gun and drove that rivet….and the golden rivet disintegrated right before everyone’s eyes.
May 27, 1937: Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic. When writing about Pedestrian Day the next day, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Wills O’Brien wrote, “A necklace of surpassing beauty was placed about the lovely throat of San Francisco yesterday.” View a YouTube video of Pedestrian Day here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sow_vHGdMXo.
May 28, 1937: Golden Gate Bridge opens to vehicular traffic at twelve o'clock noon, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in the White House to announce the event to the world. When FDR pressed the telegraph key, every fire siren in San Francisco and Marin was sounded, every church bell rang, ships sounded their whistles, and every fog horn blew. The Bridge opened ahead of schedule and under budget.
May 28, 1937: According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Florentine Calegeri, striking houseman of the Palace Hotel, walked the bridge first on stilts, two ways – over and back. He thought it was a good idea”
January 1938: Visitor parking area opens adjacent to the toll plaza (GGBHD Annual Report FY37/38).
May 4, 1938: With the new commute toll rates in effect, the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District sold over 400 ticket books on May 4–the first day the books were available for sale. These new rates are: $8 for 40 single trips, or 20 cents per trip, good for car and driver for a 30-day period; $7 for 20 single trips, or 35 cents per trip, for car and five passengers, good for 60 days from date of purchase
May 27, 1938: One-Year Anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. Written on the back of the photo: "The Golden Gate Bridge celebrates first birthday. View of Warren Shannon, president of the Golden Gate Bridge & Highway District, blowing out candle on birthday cake. Festivities were held in “The Round House”, the new restaurant build at the Toll Plaza on the Bridge.”
May 27, 1938: The $10,000 Round House building was complete on the southeast side of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Round House was leased as a restaurant. The building was located as to offer customers an unexcelled panoramic view of the Golden Gate Bay and surrounding area. (GGBHD Annual Report FY37/38). According to the Marin IJ (2/17/2014), local civil engineer Alfred Finnila–who died in 2000–designed the Round House as a diner.
June 30, 1938: During the first full fiscal year, the Golden Gate Bridge serves 3,892,063 motor vehicles, carries more than 8,000,000 passengers, and in excess of 400,000 pedestrians walked the sidewalks (GGBHD Annual Report FY37/38).
July 25, 1938: Southern Pacific-Golden Gate Ferries, Ltd. suspends operations between San Francisco (Hyde Street Pier) and Sausalito as a result of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge (GGBHD Annual Report FY 38/39).
October 1, 1938: Blackie, a 12-year-old horse, swam across the waters of the Golden Gate Strait. The horse not only made aquatic history, but he soundly defeated two human challengers from the Olympic Club, and won a $1000 bet for his trainer Shorty Roberts. Blackie made the swim in 23 minutes, 15 seconds. Shorty couldn't swim, but he made the trip, too - and this was part of the bet - by hanging onto Blackie's tail. A rowboat led the way, with Shorty's brother offering a handful of sugar cubes from the stern to keep the sweets-lovin' horse on track. Watch a short film made of the adventure about Blackie’s famous swim!
September 7, 1939: First fatality - Cyril McNear of San Francisco was the first person to die in a fatal accident on the Golden Gate Bridge.
FY 1938/1939: The largest item in the Golden Gate Bridge maintenance budget is for painting the steel. In FY 38/39, $112.431.84 was spent on painting: $86,589.13 on labor; $5,430.67 on brushes and tools; and $20,412.64 on paint (GGBHD Annual Report FY 38/39).
1954: At age 40, one of the founding fathers of fitness, Jack LaLanne, proved his belief that “anything in life is possible if you apply yourself” by captivating the entire world when he swam the length of the Golden Gate Strait (approx 1.7 miles) with 140 pounds of equipment strapped to his body. A year later, he swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco while handcuffed.
March 22, 1957: A 5.3 earthquake centered in Daly City hits the San Francisco Bay Area, resulting in no deaths but lots of damage. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, at about 11:45 a.m. on March 22, a "twisting, jarring side-rolling motion" caused skyscrapers in downtown San Francisco to sway visibly. People ran into the streets, some "sobbing hysterically," and the Golden Gate Bridge "undulated as in a fierce gale."
May 8, 1959: According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District had agreed to cooperate in the make-believe destruction of San Francisco on May 8 for Stanley Kramer's movie "On the Beach” but the climax - a monumental traffic jam - in the early morning rush hour wasn't in the script. According to plans, the 15-person movie crew made its way onto the west sidewalk at 5 a.m. Cameras were to roll at sunrise (6:10 am), filming a submarine passing underneath the Bridge. But the sunlight could not pierce the morning fog. Navy men, with the film crew, contacted the submarine's captain and asked him to cruise around until the fog lifted. Soon it was 7 a.m. and the Marin County commuters were on their way to work. By 9 a.m., three lanes of traffic were jammed up a mile back.
February 27, 1960: The Golden Gate Bridge sidewalks began closing at night. Bridge directors voted to close the pedestrian walkways of the span between sunset and sunrise in the interests of public safety.
1961: Clem Mathis, brother of San Francisco’ very own crooner Johnny Mathis, was hired as a Golden Gate Bridge toll collector.
October 29, 1963: Reversible lanes were inaugurated on the Bridge, greatly aiding the flow of traffic during the heavy peak periods.
In 1967: San Francisco topless star Yvonne D’Angers, dubbed the Persian Lamb, chained herself to the Golden Gate Bridge to protest her long-threatened deportation to Iran.
October 25, 1967: Bridge Painter Lee Patrick fell to his death while working under the San Francisco approach span (see reference to this in the Board of Directors meeting minutes). Since the original construction of the Bridge when 11 lives were lost, this is the first death of a Bridge worker.
October 19, 1968: The Bridge launched one-way toll collection with auto tolls FREE for northbound travelers and a $.50 toll collected from southbound travelers.
November 10, 1969: The California State Legislature passed Assembly Bill 584 authorizing the District to develop a transportation facility plan for implementing a mass transportation program in the Golden Gate Corridor. This was to include any and all forms of transit, including ferry. At that time, the word "Transportation" was added to the District name to indicate its new commitment to public transportation.
February 28, 1970: Golden Gate Bridge west sidewalk opens to bicycle use during non-work hours. Bridge work forces use the west sidewalk during the day to perform a variety of on-going maintenance and repair tasks.
August 15, 1970: Golden Gate Ferry begins service between Sausalito and San Francisco.
July 1, 1971: The remaining original bonds issued for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge are retired. The $35 million in principal and nearly $39 million in interest were financed entirely from Bridge tolls.
July 9, 1971: At the Board of Directors meeting, the Board of Directors receives a commendation from the California State Legislature to the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District “for their achievement of a debt-free Bridge, and the Directors and Management, past and present, for their successful stewardship.”
January 1, 1972: Golden Gate Transit regional intercounty (between counties) bus service begins.
January 12, 1973: At the Board of Directors meeting, the Board of Directors acknowledges receipt of the San Francisco Bay Area Council’s Award of Merit “for meritorious contributions to the Bay Area Environment.
August 2, 1973: In a discussion at a Joint Finance and Transportation Committee, members expressed concern regarding the financial impacts of establishing a free carpool period from 6 am to 9 am on weekdays, except holidays. The policy was not enacted until 1976 (see below).
1974: Reversible lane traffic management system was modified to include the installation of “buffer” lanes (unoccupied lanes creating a median space between opposing lanes of traffic) on the Bridge during periods of light traffic at night and during storms, thick fog, or high winds.
February 5, 1976: It snowed up to two inches on San Francisco streets with a in dusting the Marin Headlands, just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. Click here for a photo of the snow.
February 26, 1976: The Golden Gate Bridge appears on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine as the backdrop with five prominent San Francisco based rockers of the day, with a title above the photo that reads, "What a Long Strange Trip It's Been."
April 1976: Toll free passage began for carpools defined as vehicles with three or more occupants during the peak traffic hours of 6 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6pm. The free carpool policy was aimed at further enhancing the efficient flow of traffic during the heaviest peak commute periods.
December 11, 1976: Golden Gate Ferry service expands to include service between Larkspur and San Francisco.
February 17, 1983: In a stunt to publicize Ford Motor Company’s new 1983 Thunderbird, one of the new cars was slung from a 50-foot-long cable under a helicopter and flown under the Golden Gate Bridge at approximately 11:25 am.
October 1, 1983: The speed limit on the Bridge was reduced to 45 mph.
September 29, 1984: The District Board of Directors decides to allow a British production company to film a scene of a new James Bond movie on one of the Golden Gate Bridge main cables, at a height of more than 700 feet above water. The film, "A View to a Kill," features Roger Moore as Bond. One of the more spectacular scenes is a fight between Bond and a villain on the north tower of the Bridge with the loser of the fight falling to his death from the main cable. To capture this scene, the producers hoped to talk the Board into letting them drop a dummy from the north tower to the roadway; this portion of filming was denied. "With all the problems we have with suicides on this Bridge, I think this is a bum idea," said Director Quentin Kopp of San Francisco.
February 22, 1985: One billionth car crosses the Golden Gate Bridge.
August 15, 1985: Construction is complete on the replacement of the original Golden Gate Bridge roadway with a modern orthotropic steel plate deck. As part of this project, the roadway is widened from 60 to 62 feet, allowing for two 11-foot wide curb lanes, one in each direction, to better and more safely accommodate buses and trucks.
May 24, 1987: Golden Gate Bridge celebrates its 50th Anniversary.
May 2, 1988: The California Highway Patrol launched a safety campaign by dispatching a unit of six motorcycle officers to crack down on speeders on the Golden Gate Bridge. Bridge customers were notified in the toll plaza with a flyer “Over 45 MPH = CHP” that stated, “Beginning the week of May 2, 1988, a special unit of six CHP motorcycle officers will be patrolling the Bridge from dawn to dusk. The officers will be issuing citations to drivers who exceed the 45 MPH speed limit, make unsafe lane changes, follow another car too closely or are in violation of the vehicle code. The goal of this program is to ensure that drivers adhere to the speed limit and drive safely. Test shows that the driver who obeys the speed limit can cross the Bridge, pass through the toll gates and reach either the Doyle Drive/Lombard off-ramp or the 19th Avenue /Lake Street intersection in only 61 seconds more than it takes at the illegal speed of 55 MPH.”
May 13, 1988: The results of the safety campaign launched on the Bridge on May 2, 1988, by the California Highway Patrol were released. Collisions during the two-week period were reduced by more than 70% and the average speed was considerably lower; 75% of the tickets issued were for speeding. To support the success of the campaign, which continued for 14 months, the District gave away bumper stickers to interested motorist as reminder of the Bridge’s 45 MPH speed limit.
September 18, 1987: During his 1987 spiritual outreach tour of several U.S. cities, Pope John Paul II made a stop at a Golden Gate Bridge vista point in San Francisco. His entourage included San Francisco's then-Archbishop John Quinn. After the bridge stop, John Paul rode in the popemobile in a motorcade down Geary Boulevard.
January 1993: The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition presented the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District with a Golden Wheel Award “for supporting San Francisco Bay Area bicyclists by arranging bicycle use of the bridge any and all times of the day and night!”
March 4, 1993: Shortly after midnight, 5 young men intending to bungee jump at the north end of the Golden Gate Bridge were stopped by Bridge security forces and turned over to Marin County Sheriff’s Department, who made the arrest for trespassing.
October 1993: In recognition of "enduring excellence in design," the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA) honored the Golden Gate Bridge with its "Distinguished Building Award." For the first time in SARA's history, the Distinguished Building Award was presented to a structure other than a building. The Golden Gate Bridge was honored because of its "impact on the city, design, economic value, cultural statement, engineering accomplishment and contribution to the overall furtherance of the region." The award commended the work of Bridge Architect Irving Morrow, Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss and the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.
February 16, 1994: The Golden Gate Bridge was named one of the Seven Civil Engineering Wonders of the United States by the American Society of Civil Engineers, along with the Hoover Dam, Interstate Highway System, Kennedy Space Center, Panama Canal, Trans-Alaska Pipeline and world Trade Center.
June 7, 1994: The emergency call box system on the Golden Gate Bridge sidewalks was modified to allow callers to be directly transferred, if requested, to the suicide hotline at San Francisco Suicide Prevention. All of the call box signs were changes to read: Emergency and Crisis Counseling. See September 2005 for additional sign changes to the call box system.
August 15, 1995: Golden Gate Ferry celebrates 25th Anniversary.
September 13, 1996: Golden Gate Bridge is designated a double-fine zone, doubling the fine for moving violations. The Bridge was one of twelve "Safety Enhancement—Double Fine Zone" pilot projects implemented statewide under SB 1367. Legislation enacted subsequent to SB 1367 added a "sunset provision" to the Double Fine Zone pilot program, and the Double Fine Zone on the Bridge expired on December 31, 2003. Efforts in 2004, 2005, and 2006 to obtain legislation authorizing re-establishment of the double fine zone were unsuccessful. The accident rate on the Bridge dropped by 50% when comparing the five-year period after implementation to the five-year period before implementation. In March 2007 (see below), the Golden Gate Bridge was designated as a Safety Awareness Zone.
January 1, 1997: Golden Gate Transit regional intercounty bus service celebrates its 25th Anniversary.
May 1, 1997: As part of the public outreach efforts to raise awareness about the Bridge’s 45 mph speed limit, 15 NASCAR Winston Cup race cars crossed the Bridge with “taxi-top” signs reading “I Can Drive 45 on the Golden Gate Bridge."
May 27, 1997: Golden Gate Bridge celebrates its 60th Anniversary.
August 5, 1997: Groundbreaking ceremony held for Phase I of the Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit Construction.
August 11, 1997: CHP began using LIDAR technology for speed enforcement on the Bridge.
April 1988: Senator Quentin Kopp proposed legislation was hotly contested and ultimately scrapped. It would have eliminated Napa, Mendocino, and Del Norte counties from the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, and would have cut the number of Board members from 19 to 9.
November 23, 1996: Actor Woody Harrelson and eight other demonstrators were arrested for climbing onto the Golden Gate Bridge main cable and south tower with a banner protesting the logging of ancient redwoods in Humboldt County. The protest tied up traffic for hours.
September 3, 1998: United States Postal Service unveils Golden Gate Bridge commemorative stamp.
November 20, 1998: The Board of Directors, under Resolution # 98-290, authorized the General Manager to execute a license agreement between the District and Golden Gate Associates Partners LLC relative to the Official Ballad of the Golden Gate Bridge titled, “The Bridge: Golden Gate.”
November 20, 1998: The District, because of its sister bridge relationship with the Yanpu Bridge, Shanghai, China, received a beautiful plaque from the City of Shanghai inscribed:“Yanpu Bridge of Shanghai, China, Bridge Friendship 1998/99."
March 1999: The Golden Gate Bridge awarded the number two position in the Top 10 Construction Achievements of the 20th Century by CONEXPO-CON/AGG. The Top 10 Rankings were: Chunnel Tunnel; Golden Gate Bridge; Dwight D. Eisenhower System of Interstate and Defense Highways; Empire State Building; Hoover/Boulder Dam; Panama Canal; Sydney Opera House; Aswan High Dam; World Trade Center; and, the Hong Kong Airport.
April 10, 2000: Several college students videoed themselves riding on a couch being dragged behind a pickup truck and entering onto the Golden Gate Bridge roadway. All involved were arrested and cited for various violations.
July 13, 2000: FasTrak electronic toll collection system is launched on the Golden Gate Bridge.
August 15, 2000: Golden Gate Sausalito Ferry celebrates 30 years of service on the San Francisco Bay.
September 19, 2000: American Public Works Association selects the Golden Gate Bridge as the Top Ten Public Works Projects of the Century.
September 2000: The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) selects Golden Gate Ferry to receive an MTC Award of Merit for its part in the successful Pacific Bell Park Transit Campaign.
September 2000: The District takes first place in APTA's distinguished 1999 AdWheel Awards Competition for its Bus Operator Recruitment Campaign in the "Marketing on a Shoestring Campaign" category.
October 24, 2000: The first of several shipments of massive cranes, at a maximum height of 223.75 feet above waterline, bound for the Port of Oakland from China, passes under the Golden Gate Bridge with an estimated clearance of about 13 feet.
February 5, 2001: In the wee hours of the morning, students from University of British Columbia School of Engineering claimed credit for dangling a VW bug off the side of the Golden Gate Bridge, per their past tradition of hanging something large from a known structure. The so-called prank tied up traffic for several hours that morning.
May 11, 2001: A construction contract is awarded to Shimmick Construction Company, Inc./Obayashi Corportation, a Joint Venture, Hayward, CA for Phase 2 of the Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit Construction.
May 30, 2001: The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) names the Golden Gate Bridge a Civil Engineering Monument of the Millenium.
July 20, 2001: The Golden Gate Ferry high-speed catamaran, Motor Vessel (M.V.) Mendocino, is christened at Noyo Harbor, near Fort Bragg, CA. Built by Nicols Bros., Freeland, WA, it is named in honor of Mendocino County as it is one of six counties that comprise the District.
July 22, 2001: M.V. Mendocino ferry vessel arrives at the Golden Gate Larkspur Ferry Terminal in Larkspur, CA.
August 24, 2001: M.V. Mendocino ferry vessel is christened, for a second time, at the San Francisco Golden Gate Ferry Terminal.
September 10, 2001: M.V. Mendocino ferry vessel enters into service between Larkspur and San Francisco.
April 12, 2002: The Lone Sailor Memorial, a replica of the statue created by sculptor Stanley Bleifeld for the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, was dedicated in 2002 as a tribute to the women and men of the Navy, Marines, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines who shipped out through the Golden Gate – more than a million and a half during World War II. The Memorial is located on Caltrans property, at Vista Point at the northeast side of the Bridge.
April 26, 2002: A contract is awarded for the installation of six new engines on the three original 725-passenger Larkspur Ferry vessels, referred to as the Spaulding vessels (after the designer).
May 1, 2002: The second shipment of massive cranes, at a maximum height of 227.7 feet above waterline, bound for the Port of Oakland from China, passes under the Golden Gate Bridge with an estimated clearance of about 7.9 feet.
May 26, 2002: An anti-war protest, organized by the All People's Coalition, on the Golden Gate Bridge led to the arrest of 30 demonstrators, causing a traffic backup several miles long.
May 27, 2002: Golden Gate Bridge celebrates its 65th anniversary without fanfare.
June 14, 2002: A third shipment of massive cranes, at a maximum height of 227.7 feet above waterline, bound for the Port of Oakland from China, passes under the Golden Gate Bridge with an estimated clearance of about 10 feet.
September 1, 2002: Golden Gate Bridge toll increases to $5.00 cash, $4.00 FasTrak and $2.50 per axle (for vehicles exceeding two axles).
August 2003: The Bridge toll plaza roof was replaced for the first time since original construction. As part of the preparations for the roof replacement, the round 8-foot diameter clock that was added to the toll plaza in 1949 was taken down and replaced by a more modern replica. Exposure over the years to salt air lead to corrosion and the clock was no longer able to be easily repaired.
February 27, 2004: The Board of Directors authorized the Board President and General Manger to execute the Dissolution Agreement between the GGBHTD, County of Marin and the North Coast Rail Authority (NCRA) to dissolve the Northwestern Pacific Railroad Authority (NWPRA). In January 2003, the Sonoma-Marin Rail Transit District (SMART) was created under AB224 as the entity to plan and operate a passenger rail system. In May 2003, the NWPRA agreed to transfer its assets to SMART with the transfer scheduled to occur in March 2004. Upon the transfer of NPWRA assets to SMART, the mission of the NWPRA was completed, and therefore dissolved.
April 2004: After assisting with security and public safety at the Golden Gate Bridge since November 2001, the California National Guard troops departed. Security remains intact, as it has since opening day, with the security partners on site including the California Highway Patrol and others.
March 5, 2005: At about noon, two giant $7 million Panamax cranes bound for the Port of Oakland from China safely passed under the Golden Gate Bridge.
September 2005: The message associated with the Crisis Counseling/Motorist Call Boxes on the Bridge sidewalks was modified to include: “There is hope, Make the Call. The consequences of jumping from this Bridge are fatal and tragic.”
June 23, 2006: The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District received a Certificate of Merit, Toll Excellence Award for “contributing to the advancement of the worldwide toll industry from the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association.
July 14, 2006: Contract awarded for the replacement of the FasTrak Toll Lane and Toll Plaza Equipment. Many of the original FasTrak equipment installed in 1999 had reached the end of their estimated 7-year life cycle. Following development and installation, the new equipment was operational in 2008.
In 2007: The San Francisco Bay Guardian named the Golden Gate Bridge the BEST HISTORICAL LANDMARK in its annual "Best of the Bay" edition.
January 1, 2007: CHP took 10 war protesters into custody at the Golden Gate Bridge after a three-hour standoff that backed up traffic. The confrontation began at noon when members of the women's peace organization CodePink prepared to walk across the bridge as a vigil to remember the 3,000 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
March 23, 2007: In accordance with SB 988, the Golden Gate Bridge was designated as a Safety Awareness Zone by the Board. SB 988, introduced by Senator Carole Migden and signed into law on September 29, 2006, designates the Golden Gate Bridge as a Safety Awareness Zone upon the passage of a resolution by the Board authorizing such designation.
May 2007: Installation of a new access system for maintenance activities in the Marin approach viaduct structures began.
May 28, 2007: Golden Gate Bridge celebrates its 70th Anniversary with the release of a new book, "The Golden Gate Bridge, Report of the Chief Engineer, Volume 2, by Stahl, Mohn, Currie.
September 17, 2007: TransLink®, the Bay Area’s smartcard fare payment system, is made available to all Golden Gate Transit and Golden Gate Ferry customers.
November 18, 2007: With a permit granted from the District, artist, educator, and health advocate Michael Grbich tap-danced across the Golden Gate Bridge sidewalkto celebrate his 75th birthday. Watch it on YouTube! Note: an advance permit is required for activities such as these.
In 2008: The San Francisco Bay Guardian named the Golden Gate Bridge the BEST HISTORICAL LANDMARK in its annual "Best of the Bay" edition.
April 7, 2008: Three pro-Tibet protesters climbed the Golden Gate Bridge vertical suspension cables at a location near the south tower at about 10:30 am and unfurled two banners intended to draw attention to Chinese human rights violations in Tibet. The protest by Students for a Free Tibet came the day before the Olympic Torch was set to arrive in San Francisco for its only North American stop before this summer's games in Beijing. One banner read, "One World, One Dream, Free Tibet 08," a play on the official slogan of the Olympic Games, "One World, One Dream." The other read simply, "Free Tibet." The protesters also hung two Tibetan flags.
June 14 & 15, 2008: San Rafael's Italian Street Painting Festival entry of the Golden Gate Bridge by artist Ian Ross.
August 10, 2008: A distressed pelican is rescued from the southbound curb lane of the Bridge at approximately 2:44pm and transferred to animal care.
October 25, 2008: A Zeppelin NT, a 246-foot blimp-like airship, passed over the Golden Gate Bridge en route to its new home at Moffett Field in Mountain View. A California startup plans to offer aerial tours of the San Francisco Bay area in the newly built zeppelin, one of only three in the world. It carries 12 passengers, and tickets start at $495 per person.
March 11, 2009: The largest crane barge on the west coast passes under the Golden Gate Bridge. The crane, nicknamed the "The Left Coast Lifter,'' is fixed to a barge that measures 400 feet by 100 feet. The crane’s boom is 328 feet long, weighs 992 tons, and is capable of lifting 1,873 tons of materials. The crane will be used in the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge Seismic Safety Project and will place all of the self-anchored suspension bridge deck sections and the lower portions of the new span's tower, projected to stand 525 feet tall.
May 3, 2009: At about 6:20 pm, the CHP stopped a horseback rider who was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge sidewalk. Horses are not allowed to cross the Bridge sidewalks due to safety considerations.
January 20, 2010: Travel + Leisure Magazine names the Golden Gate Bridge as one of the World’s Ten Most Amazing Views, along with the Grand Canyon; Manhattan skyline in New York City; The Matterhorn, Switzerland; Cliffs of Moher, Ireland; Paris skyline; Great Wall of China; Machu Picchu, Peru; Great Barrier Reef, Australia; The Tiger's Nest (or Paro Taktsang Monastery), Bhutan.
January 22, 2010: It snowed on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge; this photo was taken at 6:30 am..
January 27, 2010: At 6:45 am, the Queen Victoria was greeted by the Golden Gate Bridge foghorns operated by Bridge Electrician R. Reesnik. View the arrival here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHYjyW-hkVI and check out the cool photo below by Al Mueller. The Queen Victoria, Cunard's newest luxury liner and the company's second largest, was making her Maiden Call to San Francisco during her current world voyage. See another great photo here: http://www.csmonitor.com/CSM-Photo-Galleries/Photos-of-the-Day/2010/Photos-of-the-Day-01-27.
January 28, 2010: Cemex cement plant in Davenport, CA closed after 104 years in operation. The portland cement from Cemex was one of the ingredients that was mixed with the sand, gravel, and water at the construction site to make most of the concrete that was used to build the Golden Gate Bridge anchorages, foundations, and part of the original concrete deck. The portland cement was brought in huge barrels, and the aggregates were delivered by barge, with the mixing occurring on-site. At least two other cement manufacturers furnished cement for the concrete in the Bridge: Monterey Portland Cement Company, Monterey, and the Permanent Portland Cement Company, Milpitas.
March 16, 2010: Three massive cranes aboard the Zhen Hua 15 which came from Shanghai, China en route to the Port of Oakland, passed under the Golden Gate Bridge just after 8:30 am. The crew spent the past weekend in Drakes Bay lowering the structural apexes of the cranes as they are 253 feet high at full height and the midspan clearance of the Golden Gate Bridge is 220 ft.
April 11, 2011: The Golden Gate Bridge security program includes features that are visible to the public and many that are not. Security measures are modified and/or upgraded routinely. The latest addition, the first of four (two on each of the main cables) Main Cable security gates, was installed on the west side main cable to further assist in the prevention of unauthorized persons climbing on the main cables.
May 27, 2012: The Golden Gate Bridge 75th anniversary celebration was centered at nearby Crissy Field, and the day was capped with an amazing fireworks show. Visit the 75th anniversary website to read more.
July 9, 2012: As Part of Phase 3A of the Golden Gate Bridge Seismic Retrofit Construction Project, the contractor completed the installation of the new roadway deck panels (fabricated in Napa, CA) that replaced the North Anchorage Housing roof/roadway deck. The first new deck section was installed on February 13, 2012. The last roadway deck section was installed on July 9, 2012. This work was done at night with traffic allowed to cross the Bridge at all times.
August 1, 2012: A collectible, limited edition Clipper card was developed in partnership with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and released for public purchase as a tribute to the Golden Gate Bridge 75th Anniversary on May 27, 2012.
August 2 and 3, 2012: A little after 6 pm on August 2, a distraught man climbed on to the main cable and after law enforcement attempts to talk him down failed, he spent the night in the cold and fog. The next morning (August 3), at 8:30 am and again at 9:40 am, traffic was stopped so that law enforcement personnel could safely apprehended the man.
September 21, 2012: The Space Shuttle Endeavour made a pass over the Golden Gate Bridge on the way to its new home at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, CA.
October 26, 2012: The Board of Directors authorized the filing of a Notice of Exemption based on the environmental studies and approved proceeding with the final design and preparation of the construction bid documents for installation of a moveable median barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge.
January 22, 2013: The design consultant submitted the 65% completion design plans for the Golden Gate Bridge Suicide Deterrent Net System.
January 25, 2013: The Board, by Resolution No. 2013-004, established the Golden Gate Bridge Wind-Locks Rehabilitation project to undertake repairs to the wind-locks located on the suspension bridge portion of the Bridge. The work was completed in October 2013.
March 27, 2013: At midnight, toll collection at the Golden Gate Bridge was converted from a combination of electronic and manual to all electronic tolling. The Golden Gate Bridge was the first major toll bridge in the United States to convert. The all electronic tolling marketing campaign was uniquely branded.
April 23, 2013: The Solar Impulse airplane flew over the Golden Gate Bridge. See the photo here.
August 2013: The District developed a new look for its See Something? Say Something! public awareness program. Posters were created for each of the District's operating divisions as an ongoing enhancement to existing safety and security measures. See Something? Say Something! is a simple reminder to customers to report suspicious or atypical persons or things encountered while traveling on a bus or ferry or across the Bridge. The posters—displayed throughout District facilities, at bus stops and transit terminals, and in various Bridge locations—encourage customers to join the District employees as the "eyes and ears" of their transportation environment to aid in maintaining a safe environment for everyone. This campaign won a First Place APTA (Amercian Public Transportation Association) AdWheel Award!
Labor Day Weekend 2013: During the Labor Day 2013 weekend closure of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, Larkspur and Sausalito Ferry added morning, afternoon, and late night service to provide extra capacity for East Bay residents traveling to and from San Francisco. In additional, Golden Gate Bridge saw a 25% increase in traffic during the four-day closure.
September 9, 2013: The Golden Gate Bridge is ranked #8 in the Top Ten Best Attractions by USA Today and 10Best. http://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-iconic-american-attractions/.
September 20, 2013: With the completion of the required design, environmental, and technical studies, the Board of Directors approved the final design and purchase of a Moveable Median Barrier. The one-foot wide, 32-inch concrete and steel barrier will provide a safer division of traffic and help eliminate head-on collisions, and will allow for easier lane configuration changes to better meet traffic demands.
September 2013: Just six months after the Golden Gate Bridge's conversoin to all electronic tolling, 85% of motorists are using FasTrak to pay their toll. The remaining 15% are using the new Pay-by-Plate payment options.
October 18, 2013: The relay switch of the Golden Gate Bridge foghorn mounted on the south tower broke and was stuck in the ON position from approximately 2:00 am to 3:15 am. Here is a blog written about this event.
April 7, 2014: After extensive outreach where the public weighed in on four multi-year toll increase options, a $1 Golden Gate Bridge toll increase went into effect. The toll increase will help raise $138 million over five years and will greatly assist in reducing a projected $142 million 5-year shortfall.
May 2014: The District rolled out a new campaign aimed at increasing safety awareness among employees and customers. these colorful posters are reminders to stay safe by being alert and aware of their surroundings. Keep each other safe—Together we are Golden!
May 23, 2014: The Board of Directors awarded a contract in May 2014 for the installation of a Moveable Median Barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge. The one-foot wide, 32-inch concrete and steel barrier will provide a safer division of traffic and help eliminate head-on collisions, and will allow for easier lane configuration changes to better meet traffic demands. Installation – planned for January 2015 – will require a full weekend closure of the Bridge roadway. Bridge sidewalks will remain open for pedestrians and bicyclists, and Golden Gate Transit buses will be allowed passage on the roadway.
June 27, 2014: The Board of Directors approved a funding plan for the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge Physical Suicide Deterrent System Project in the amount of $76 million. This decision came with the understanding that the project will be funded with $22 million of federal Local Highway Bridge Program (HBP) funds programmed by Caltrans, $27 million of federal Surface Transportation Program (STP) funds programmed by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), $7 million of California Mental Health Service Act Funds (Proposition 63), and $20 million from District reserves.
August 5, 2014: The famous 8-foot Art Deco Toll Plaza clock was removed in preparation for the Moveable Median Barrier construction and to undergo some needed refurbishment. The clock will be reinstalled in early 2015.
Beginning week of September 2, 2014: The four east-most Golden Gate Bridge toll booths were removed as part of the Moveable Median Barrier construction project. One new toll booth will be reconstructed (toll booth 8).
September 5, 2014: Two black-tailed deer made their way across the Golden Gate Bridge during the evening commute. Traffic stopped in both directions while the deer made their way from San Francisco to Marin County. Watch a video of their safe crossing HERE.
January 10-12, 2015: The Golden Gate Bridge became safer for drivers after the weekend of January 10, 2015, when a new Moveable Median Barrier (MMB) was installed that virtually eliminates the possibility of a head-on collision. The solid, semi-rigid barrier is made up of 3,517-interlocking steel and concrete units, each weighing 1500 pounds and standing 32 inches tall. To accommodate the narrow lanes on the Golden Gate Bridge, the Barrier was constructed to be just 12 inches wide. It replaces the yellow plastic pylons that had visually separated northbound and southbound traffic ever since lane management began in the early 1960’s. The Barrier cost $30 million to design and install, with $20 million provided by state funds through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. The District held a ribbon cutting ceremony on January 11 at Vista Point. Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, crash survivor Dr. Grace Dammann, and Metropolitan Transportation Commissioners Steve Kinsey and Bob Alvarado all shared their support of the new barrier.
* All Photos (except where noted) copyright © Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. All Rights Reserved.