Over the weekend, San Francisco residents and visitors celebrated the 75th anniversary of the completion of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The longest suspension bridge in the world at the time, the mile-long bridge was constructed from 1933 to 1937 – a sign of optimism during the Great Depression when many Americans were unemployed.
According to David Muir in the ABC World News video below, many believed that due to the dangerous wind conditions and ocean currents through the Golden Gate Strait, the bridge could not be built. The brave construction workers who often worked without harnesses with only a “safety net” stretched between them and the ocean proved the naysayers wrong.
The son of a worker who fell into one of those nets and was able to return to work just a few weeks afterward quotes a phrase his dad often said about the job: “That took 90% guts and 10% know-how.”
A video report by Associated Press broadcaster Haven Daley shows one of the helmets workers were required to wear, making the project one of the first major construction projects to require “hard hats” as they came to be called. The helmet and other artifacts and documents from the bridge’s planning and construction are part of an exhibit by the California Historical Society which will be on display through October in their gallery located in San Francisco.
The video also features 90 year old Lola Silvestri, who was one of the people who walked across the bridge the day it opened on May 28, 1937. She says that the Golden Gate is more than a toll bridge which one can drive over; it is “a piece of history”.
Major contractors on the project included Bethlehem Steel Corporation, John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, Pacific Bridge Company, Barrett & Hilp, J.H. Pomeroy & Company Inc., Raymond Concrete Pile Company, Eaton & Smith Construction Company, and Alta Electric & Mechanical Company.
Happy Anniversary to all those who helped create this American landmark.