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Golden Gate Bridge History in Photos

| May 22, 2012
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On May 27, to great fanfare, the Golden Gate Bridge will turn 75. For years the bridge has been an iconic image of the Bay Area, but when it was proposed in 1916 it met fierce resistance from a a variety of sources including the Department of War, the Southern Pacific Railroad and ferry union workers. But six counties decided to foot the $35 million cost, an astronomical sum during the Great Depression, to build the world’s longest suspension bridge at the time.

The Marin tower of the Golden Gate Bridge under construction in 1933. Joseph Strauss was the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge:

The Marin tower of the Golden Gate Bridge under construction in 1933.

Courtesy the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

On November 18, 1936 the two sections of the main span were joined in the middle:

On November 18, 1936 the two sections of the main span were joined in the middle.

Courtesy the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

On February 17th, 1937, workers had to remove a wooden scaffold that had been built underneath the bridge platform. To reach it, workers hung a temporary catwalk. But the catwalk hadn’t been attached properly, it broke off and plunged into the ocean, dragging the safety net with it. Ten men died in the fall from the bridge, including Fred Dummatzen, pictured. Learn more about life for the men who built Golden Gate Bridge at QUEST.

Fred Dummatzen sitting on the bridge.

Courtesy of Labor Archives and Research Center, SFSU

In 1936 workers attach the cable formers, which keep the 61 main cable bundles in vertical rows:

Cable formers kept the 61 main cable bundles in vertical rows.

Courtesy the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

On May 27, 1937 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, D.C., signaling the official start of vehicle traffic over the bridge. On May 28, a group of Fiesta Queens celebrated the opening:

May 28, 1937 Fiesta Queens.

Courtesy the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

A photo from the 1950s shows the Golden Gate Bridge from Baker Beach:

Picture dated 1950's of the Golden Gate bridge, in the San Francisco Bay.

OFF/AFP/Getty Images

An air-to-air front view of a C-5A Galaxy aircraft, in a camouflage paint scheme, as it flys over the San Francisco Bay in 1983:

An air-to-air front view of a C-5A Galaxy aircraft, in a camouflage paint scheme, as it flys over the San Francisco Bay in 1983.

USAF/Getty Images

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels pass in front of the Golden Gate Bridge during a practice session for San Francisco Fleet Week, October 4, 2007:

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels pass in front of the Golden Gate Bridge during a practice session for San Francisco Fleet Week October 4, 2007 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Golden Gate Bridge electricians on the main cable:

Golden Gate Bridge electrician on main cable.

Courtesy the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

Fog shrouds the Golden Gate Bridge:

A controversial film made by moviemaker Eric Steel documenting people committing suicide off of the Golden Gate Bridge has opened a debate about why there isn't a suicide barrier on the famous landmark. Over 1,300 people have jumped to their death from the span since the bridge opened in 1937.

Photo by Della Huff, courtesy the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District

A controversial 2006 film made by Eric Steel documenting people committing suicide off of the bridge opened a debate about why there isn’t a suicide barrier on the famous landmark. (You can watch the film here.) More than 1,300 people have jumped to their death from the span since the bridge opened in 1937.

Celebrations are planned throughout the Bay Area for the bridge's 75 anniversary on May 27, 2012.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Celebrations are planned throughout the Bay Area for the bridge’s 75th anniversary on May 27, 2012.

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Category: Architecture, Arts and Entertainment, California History

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About the Author ()

Lisa Pickoff-White is KQED's Senior Interactive News Producer. Her work has been honored with awards from the Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Society of Professional Journalists and SXSW Interactive. Lisa specializes in visual journalism, including photography and data. Reach Lisa Pickoff-White at lpickoffwhite@kqed.org.