It's considered one of the modern-day wonders of the world, hosts almost 800,000 cars a week, but was called "a thirty five million dollar steel harp" by the San Francisco Chronicle when it opened in 1937. Today, we know the Golden Gate Bridge as an enduring symbol of the west and it's hard to imagine that beautiful city's waterfront without the bridge's familiar silhouette.
A new book, The Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America's Greatest Bridge by Kevin Starr, tells the story behind the bridge, starting with a history of the Bay Area, the political wranglings behind the bridge's inception, and the arduous process of conceptualizing and creating a man-made structure to span the dangerous waters between San Francisco and Marin County. We read about the tragedies that killed 11 workers and led to installation of a safety net during the building, how the distinctive International Orange color was chosen (over the objections of the US Navy, which preferred yellow and black stripes!), and why the guard rails on the pedestrian walk are so alarmingly low. We cheer with almost a quarter million pedestrians who joyously celebrated their city's newest landmark when it finally opened in 1937!
For more detail, The Gate by John Van der Zee (1986) offers an exhaustive history. The Golden Gate, though, brings the story up to date and covers many more aspects of the bridge's utilitarian and iconic qualities. If you've never seen -- or driven or walked across -- this glorious span, this new book will inspire you to head west and experience the Golden Gate Bridge for yourself.