Golden Gate Bridge Timeline


1869 First “proposal” for suspension bridge across the Bay from Oakland.
1872 Charles Crocker proposes bridge from San Francisco to Marin County.
1916 James Wilkins promotes a Golden Gate Bridge in SF Bulletin newspaper.
1917 Joseph Strauss consults with San Francisco engineers on local drawbridges – meets with city Engineer and submits informal proposal for Golden Gate crossing. Strauss begins informal, unsanctioned lobbying effort in counties North of the Gate
1919 City Supervisors authorize an official investigation, requesting Federal study of the channel.
1921 Strauss submits proposal for a Golden Gate Bridge estimated to cost $17 million, the homely (and ultimately unrealized) cantilever-suspension hybrid.
1926 Certification of a Bridge District encompassing 8 counties by state court. Two of them, and portions of two more would later withdraw support.
1928 Legal challenges are put to rest and the District begins process of choosing the Engineer.
1929 Stanford graduate and engineer Herbert Hoover orders Presidential Commission to investigate an Oakland to San Francisco bridge.
Aug 1929 Strauss appointed Chief Engineer, supported by Leon Moisseiff, Derleth, and Clifford Paine. His design is almost immediately scrapped.
Oct 1929 Stock market crashes, putting the project in doubt as country spirals into Depression.
Nov 4, 1930 Voters approve funding for the bridge project by a 3 to 1 margin. Strauss immediately orders Charles Ellis to begin designing in earnest.
Dec 1931 After most of the hard calculations have been done, an impatient Joseph Strauss argues with Charles Ellis about the schedule, and orders him to take a vacation. He is “invited” to make it permanent.
Early 1932 Clifford Paine is given Ellis’ plans and the job of overseeing the construction.
Nov 1932 $24 million in contracts are awarded.
Jan 1933 Groundbreaking at Fort Point in the Presidio.
Jun 1933 The north (Marin) pier (tower platform) is completed.
May 1934 The north tower is completed.
Jan 1935 The south pier is completed.
Jun 1935 The south tower is completed.
Aug 1935 Cabling begins.
May 1936 The main cables are finished. The safety net is strung all the way across the Golden Gate.
Sep 1936 The steel girders that will hold the road surface are completed, hanging from 250 suspenders (it’s a suspension bridge, after all) draped over the main cables.
Apr 15, 1937 The road bed is finished.
May 27, 1937 The ribbon is cut, the pictures are taken, dignitaries hands are shaken, and pedestrians parade across the bridge on opening day. The next day, the endless stream of vehicles begins.
May 16, 1938 Joseph Strauss dies.
1950's The roadbed is stiffened by stronger gridwork underneath, after the Golden Gate Bridge is closed for swaying in high winds, like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge disaster.
1970's Rust is discovered at the joining of some suspenders with the roadbed support structure. All suspenders are replaced over several years – very carefully, one at a time!
May 24, 1987 The Golden Gate Bridge is closed to traffic for the 50th anniversary party.
1993 The American Society of Civil Engineers declares that Charles Ellis was the “Brains behind the Bridge”, and deserves belated recognition.
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