As the Statue of Liberty is to the east, the Golden Gate bridge is to the west.
It occupies a unique place in American culture. And this weekend, it celebrates its 75th anniversary.
It isn't the longest bridge in the world (that honor goes to the Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge in China), or even the US (the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, in Louisiana). But it has captured the imaginations of generations of Americans and would-be Americans, who saw the great, red expanse as something of a a bridge to their dreams, heaven, or anything else California has come to symbolize.
Still, it was constructed in a moment in American history when the country was badly in need to dreams and ideals. In 1937, deep in the throws of the worst economic crisis the world has every seen, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal programs were churning out railroads, bridges, and roads; even the Hoover Dam. These projects, including the Golden Gate, put thousands of unemployed people back to work when they needed it the most.
It took four years to build, from January 1933 to May 28, 1937, by 11 engineering firms, and cost $35 million. At the time, it was the longest single-suspension bridge in the world.
There are plenty of celebrations planned for this weekend, including a day-long festival, fireworks, historical exhibits and music. The National Parks Conservatory has even released an app to commemorate the anniversary.
Some fun facts about the bridge:
- It's 1.7 miles long
- It weighs 887,000 tons
- There are 600,000 rivets
- At its highest point, its 746 feet above the surface of the San Francisco Bay
The bridge has been featured in many movies over the years, including "Vertigo" (1958, above) and more recently "X-Men: The Last Stand" (2006).
Happy birthday, Golden Gate.