The Golden Gate Bridge stands at the entrance to California’s San Francisco Bay as a symbol of American ingenuity and resolve, having been constructed during the era of the Great Depression. Today, this beloved international icon and true engineering marvel carries about 40 million vehicles a year and serves not only as a vital transportation link but also as a major travel destination for millions of visitors from around the world.
Construction began on January 5, 1933. This was followed by the official ground breaking ceremony held on February 26, 1933, at nearby Crissy Field (now part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area). The start of construction was met with great delight. A celebration at nearby Crissy Field went on for hours with at least 100,000 people in attendance. The San Francisco newspaper wrote the next day, “Two hundred and fifty carrier pigeons, provided by the San Francisco Racing Pigeon Club to carry the message of groundbreaking to every corner of California, were so frightened by the surging human mass that small boys had to crawl into their compartments in the bridge replica to shoo them out with sticks.”
December 22, 1932: Extending from Fort Baker pier, the construction of a 1,700 foot-long access road began to access the construction sites for the Marin anchorage, pier and tower.
January 5, 1933: Construction officially started.
January 1933 to February 1936: Marin and San Francisco anchorages and associated pylons.
January 1933 to May 1935: San Francisco anchorage.
January 1933 to June 1933: Marin pier.
January 1933 to June 1935: Marin anchorage.
February 1933: Work began on the east approach road from San Francisco that extended through the Presidio to the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
March 1933: Steel for the San Francisco and Marin towers that was prefabricated in Bethlehem steel foundries in Pottstown and Steelton, PA was brought by flatcar to Philadelphia and transferred to barges and shipped through the Panama Canal to Alameda, CA where it was stored until the Marin pier was completed and ready for tower erection.
March 1933 to March 1934: San Francisco tower access trestle was constructed extending 1100 feet offshore. Just as the trestle was completed, it was significantly damaged for the first time on August 14, 1933, when the McCormick Steamship Line’s Sidney M. Hauptman plowed through the thick fog and crashed into the access trestle, damaging about 400 feet. After repairs were made, on December 13, 1933, as a southwest gale battered the Golden Gate Strait for two days, the access trestle was again battered and this time there was 800 feet of wreckage. Trestle repairs began shortly thereafter and completed March 8, 1934.
November 7, 1933: Marin tower construction started. Depending on the source referenced, it was completed either on June 28, 1934 or sometime in November 1934.
October 24, 1934: San Francisco fender wall completed.
November 27, 1934: San Francisco pier area within the fender wall was un-watered.
January 3, 1935: San Francisco pier reached its final height of 44 feet above the water.
January 1935 to June 28, 1935: San Francisco tower construction.
August 2, 1935 to September 27, 1935: Harbor Tug and Barge Company strung the first wire cables to support the footwalks (aka catwalks) constructed across the Golden Gate Strait in preparation for main cable spinning.
October 1935 to May 1936: Main cable spinning and compression.
April 1936: Start of the Sausalito lateral approach road which was constructed as a W.P.A. project.
July 1936 to December 14, 1936: Suspended structure.
July 21, 1936: Start of San Francisco approach viaduct structures and Fort Point arch construction.
November 18, 1936: Two sections of the Bridge’s main span were joined in the middle. A brief ceremony marked the occasion when groups from San Francisco and Marin met and exchanged remarks at the center of the span. Major Thomas L. McKenna, Catholic Chaplin of Fort Scott, blessed the span while sprinkling holy water.
January 19, 1937 to April 19, 1937: Roadway completed.