Ever since the Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic on May 27, 1937, it’s been an iconic symbol on the American landscape.By 1870, people had realized the necessity of building a bridge spanning the Golden Gate Strait to connect the city of San Francisco with Marin County. However, it was another half-century before structural engineer Joseph Strauss submitted his bridge proposal. The plans evolved, and the final project was approved as a suspension bridge that ended up taking over four years to build.
When the Golden Gate Bridge went up, it was the longest suspended bridge span in the world – cables hold up the roadway between two towers, with no intermediate supports. And the setting had a number of inherent challenges. It cost about US$37 million at the time; building the same structure today would cost about a billion dollars. So how has the design held up over the past 80 years – and would we do things differently if we were starting from scratch today?