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Golden Gate Bridge: the history of the American symbol

Like O'Henry: “The East is the East, and the West is San Francisco, this is the opinion of the Californians. Californians are not just inhabitants of the state, but a special nation. These are the southerners of the West ... ". But not only the great writer thought so. Many Americans are ready to join his opinion today. Indeed, for them the West is not Belgium, Holland, France or Germany, as for many Europeans, but the lands located in the Rocky Mountains and Great Plains, right down to the ocean. California, among them, occupies a special position. Not only because it is the most populous state, dominating in terms of gross domestic product in the country, etc., but also because its largest cities are located on the Pacific coast. And San Francisco is one of the most important among them. The main attraction of the city, and its pride, is the Golden Gate Bridge, which connects the shores of the strait of the same name. And there, immediately behind it, the huge Pacific Ocean is already carrying its waters. Thus, the love of Americans for the West, California and San Francisco was transformed into a very special attitude to the Golden Gate Bridge, turning it into a national symbol. And only when you see his orange-red silhouette hovering over the strait once, you will not only understand that he rightfully deserved this universal recognition, but also forever preserve the memory of him in your heart.

Фото: Depositphotos

This bridge connected the city of San Francisco and southern California's Marin County, near the suburb of Sausalito. It should be noted that the strait, between the inner bay of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean, for a long time was unknown to the Spaniards who lived here. It was discovered by them only in 1769, and on August 5, 1775, Juan de Ayala and the team of San Carlos became the first Europeans to cross the strait. Without hesitation, they called it "Boca del Puerto de San Francisco", or "the mouth of the Port of San Francisco". But this will become known only after the captain of the US Army Topographic Corps of Engineers, John C. Fremont, first seeing him in 1846, exclaimed: "This is the Golden Gate to trade with the East." And already in 1848, in the documents submitted for approval to the Senate, he will give a more detailed explanation of his words: "I gave the name of this Gate the Golden Gate for the same reasons that the harbor of Byzantium was called the Golden Horn." From that moment on, it will forever enter the topographic circulation and appear on American maps. Therefore, the bridge, which later connected the strait, began to bear the same name. (It is curious how exactly Fremont managed to capture the spirit of the times. After all, his proposal for the name of the strait was approved at the very time when the first prospectors were just beginning to take their samples, and could not even imagine the imminent beginning of the California gold rush).

And two years later, in 1850, California itself will be officially recognized as a state within the United States, which will immediately be called the "Golden State". By that time, the population of San Francisco would have grown from less than a thousand in 1848 to 25 in 1850. And in the 1860s, the track of the First US Transcontinental Railroad will reach San Francisco, which will instantly change the demography and economy of the American West. From the east of the country, Anglo-Saxon migrants will be drawn to the development of new territories, displacing the Indians and Hispanic Creoles who lived here. At the same time, California will become a place where migrants from China, previously involved in railway construction, will be concentrated. By the 1880s, they will already make up 10% of the state's population. From the second half of the 1879th century, oil will be produced in California, and in 20 the Pacific Coast Oil Company will be established. Soon, the rapidly developing San Francisco begins to feel that it is cramped within its peninsular borders. And we urgently need a simple and accessible connection with the outside world. Pedestrian, road and rail. The ferry service, which had existed here for many years, could no longer satisfy the increasing demand. And therefore, in the 30-1927s of the last century, the massive construction of bridges begins: in 1929 the Dumbarton Bridge was introduced, in 1933 - the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, and in XNUMX the construction of the Oakland Bay Bridge began. But they were all internal bridges of the bay. They could still be built in more or less traditional forms. But the bridge across the strait cannot be erected so easily, since it was necessary to block more than a kilometer span, without intermediate supports. The only way out could be the construction of a suspension bridge of a special design. But this was already a super task - the pinnacle of bridge building. And before we climb it, let's look back and remember

how it all began

It is assumed that the countdown can be conducted from the earliest times, when primitive people, to overcome ravines or rivulets, threw tree trunks over them. Often storms and hurricanes helped them in this. As soon as people learned how to make rafts, immediately these structures adapted for the manufacture of wider bridges. In tropical countries, there was a different tradition of crossing water obstacles and gorges, because there were many plants with long and strong fibers. Such as creepers. Sometimes they hung right over the stream of water, as if forming natural bridges. And because people who lived in those places, quickly learned to move to the other side with the help of ropes, twisted from plant fibers or rawhide. That is, make hanging bridges. The simplest of them were arranged as follows: two parallel thick ropes were fastened, on which the flooring was fixed for the movement of travelers, and two thinner ones, set higher, and serving as a kind of handrail. Such bridges were thrown in separate high-mountainous regions of the Himalayas, in the Inca country in Peru, etc. There were also more complex systems of hanging bridges, where it was necessary to move not along a horizontal plane, but along an inclined one.

And although it was possible to occasionally drive pack animals over such bridges, it was impossible to use them as transport routes. And with the development of trade, it was required to move more and more heavy loads across wider rivers. Due to the insufficient length of wooden trunks, the flooring of the bridges had to be laid on intermediate wooden supports, or piles, fixing them in the soil at the bottom of the rivers. Over time, these supports became more and more powerful and began to be made of stone. Naturally, the next step was the construction of stone arched bridges (after all, it was impossible to build a horizontal bridge covering from simple stones). These bridges, as well as aqueducts for transferring water, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, have survived in great variety to this day, since Ancient Rome was known as an "empire of roads". After all, its vast territory could be controlled from the center only thanks to good communication. Roads allowed the troops to quickly find themselves in the right place, and officials and merchants quickly get to any province. Bridges were an important part of this road network, with a total length of almost 300000 km. The Romans built them so thoroughly that today, two millennia later, about 300 of them not only continue to exist, but are also partially used. For example, the Milvian Bridge, built 2100 years ago north of Rome, even withstood the weight of tanks during the Second World War! Now we can safely say that one of the main achievements of the Romans in construction was the use of natural cement and the introduction of a semicircular arch. The most famous surviving Roman bridges are the Pont du Gard in southern France (AD 14) and the aqueduct in the Spanish city of Segovia (AD 98).

The aqueduct of Pont du Gard and the aqueduct in Segovia. Photo: Vector, collage: ForumDaily

Of course, bridges were built in the East and in other places. For example, Marco Polo, in a book about his travels around the world, talked about 12000 bridges - wooden, stone and even with the use of iron, built near the ancient Chinese city of Kin-Sai.

Erected through natural barriers, bridges brought together not only opposite shores, but also people living there. Since ancient times, this symbol of unity has taken root, both in our consciousness and in language. We say "build bridges", meaning, build relationships, make friends. Or, on the contrary, “burn bridges behind you,” that is, eliminate the possibility of retreating, changing the decision. The head of the Catholic Church, the Pope of Rome, simultaneously bears the title of "pontiff maximus", which means "the great builder of bridges" and points to his mediating role between Heaven and Earth. Therefore, the time of his reign is called "pontificate". This title came to us from ancient Rome, when the high priest simultaneously with the service in the church, also supervised bridges. That is, already in antiquity, bridges were viewed as a sacred symbol. They became so popular that their name even penetrated into various spheres of human activity: in the automotive industry (rear and front axles of a car), in dental practice (here the bridge is called a denture), etc.

The principles of the construction of bridges laid by the Romans existed for many centuries, until, with the development of technology, in all countries there was no need to build a network of railways. Their routes were laid along optimal routes, and if an obstacle in the form of a river or gorge arose on the way, they should not be bypassed (as before), but blocked off with a bridge. At the same time, their traditional structures could no longer be fully utilized, since the trains required additional consideration of the train movement dynamics, and the heavy freight trains many times exceeded the usual loads on the bridge structures. Thank God that metal structures had already begun to be used. However, with a large length of the bridge, and they had big problems with the bearing capacity. And then the engineers proposed lattices, or trusses, the use of which was economically viable. So the main problem was removed, which existed with wooden beams, which the greater the distance between the supports, the greater the deflection, and the less weight they could bear. The reinforcement concrete, which soon came to replace the metal structure, made it possible to make both independent decisions and to combine them with metal. Thus, the first opportunity appeared to return to the usual “beam” systems, where the design of the road bed rested on the supports, as well as the “arched”, the length of which could be significantly increased.

Thus, the accumulated soon experience and a set of constructive solutions, allowed to solve almost all the pressing problems and requests. But ... With large spans and the inability to install intermediate supports (due to ground conditions or very large depth), the schemes developed were difficult to use. Both for constructive and economic reasons. But nothing new could not come up. And then I had to go back to basics, to what I started many centuries ago, i.e. to the hanging bridges, but at a new level. Thus, in the world practice of bridge building, three types of bridges entrenched: joist, arched and hanging (although, it should have been more correctly called suspended). There were, however, small deviations from the general rule. For example, when it was urgently necessary to transfer a large number of people to the opposite shore, they were used pontoon bridges where objects floating in the water - pontoons - were used instead of supports. Pontoons could also be simply interconnected barrels, anchored to the bottom. Or some rafts. Perhaps ships. In the history of wars, there are cases when they stood side by side across the entire width of the river, and military units were transported along them to the other side. The first mention of the use of pontoons dates back to 493 BC. e., when the Persian king Darius, making a campaign against the Scythians, managed to ferry his army across the Bosphorus at the narrowest point of the strait, 700 m wide.

He did this along the first floating bridge, where the wooden flooring was laid on anchored ships, fastened with sides. Since then, pontoon ferries have been used frequently. So the Carthaginian commander Hannibal crossed the Rhone, Alexander the Great - the Asiatic river Oxa, and the Roman emperor Caligula ordered to build a pontoon bridge in the Gulf of Naples. Only then, to then brag about declaring that he de "rode a horse across the sea." Pontoons were also used during the last war. Sometimes they are also used for peaceful purposes. However, they suffer greatly from floods and ice drifts, and it will be useful to breed them to allow ships sailing along the river to pass. Therefore, they are most often used as temporary structures. Since we have already mentioned this, then it is worth recalling the special group adjustable wrench bridges that have a mobile span to ensure the passage of vessels. They, as a rule, are built on navigable rivers and canals in dense urban development, when it is not possible to "untie" land transport and shipping by other means. In this case, they do not need a high span, and therefore high supports and special entrances. There are a huge number of variations: lifting (used as far back as medieval fortresses), vertically lifting, shifting, unfolding, folding, turning, etc.

The largest number of drawbridges are recorded on the Chicago River (USA). There are 38 of them there. (For information: there are 19 of them on the Neva in St. Petersburg). But these numbers shouldn't surprise you. The city with the largest number of bridges in the world is undoubtedly the German city of Hamburg. There are about 2500 of them. Of course, there are also

Hanging bridges

The fact is that the rapid development and development of new lands in America, and then the rapid spread of the railway network throughout the country, led to the need to build a huge number of bridges. Of course, American bridge builders were familiar with traditional construction schemes, but new materials and new tasks to build bridges (due to their growing need) as soon as possible and as cheaply as possible made them turn to the advantages of suspension bridges. The ability to close a large span without expensive intermediate supports - it was very tempting. And it is not surprising that the first hanging bridges arose here. What are they like? This is, first of all, the roadway, powerful support towers, cables and anchoring structures. The roadway of the bridge was suspended on vertical ropes to the main cables. In order for their own weight, as well as the weight of the canvas and the vehicle passing through it, to prevent the towers from tilting towards each other, the cables were passed through their tops and attached to anchors rigidly fixed on the banks.

Photo: screenshot

David McAuley. "How it's built: from bridges to skyscrapers." Photo: screenshot from the site

And already in 1801, in the state of Pennsylvania, Justice of the Peace James Finley built the first bridge suspended on iron chains, with a span of 21 m.In 1807, he builds a second bridge, with a span of 39 m. And the next year he already receives patent for this development. Before his death in 1828, Finlay designed 13 more bridges. This marked the beginning of a new phase in the use of suspension systems. Then the construction of suspension bridges proceeded very rapidly, especially in America. In the beginning, as we can see, small span chain bridges were built. Those. their bearing element was a chain made up of rings or separate rigid elements connected by bolts. This experience turned out to be contagious, and British engineers immediately made attempts to transfer it to their soil. Built in 1820 in England, a 110-meter span bridge over the Tweed River was received with enthusiasm. Still would. After all, it cost about 4 times cheaper than a stone bridge of the same length. And in 1826 in England, the opening of the Menaus Chain Bridge took place, which served for about a hundred years, and already had a span of 177 m.In the same period, a number of bridges were built in France, the USA and other countries, the spans of which did not exceed 150 m. Finally, in 1849, under the leadership of the English engineer Clarke, one of the most beautiful chain suspension bridges in Europe was built - the bridge over the Danube River in Budapest (Hungary), the average span of which was 202 m, with a total length of 395 m. two chains of solid links bolted together. The width of the bridge was 14 m.

Against this background, the construction in 1834 of the Zähringer Hängebrücke, in the then Swiss Freiburg, took place somehow unnoticed. The bridge had a span of 265 m and a carriageway width of 6,5 m. It was suspended on 4 cables, 135 mm in diameter, each cable consisting of 1056 wires 3,8 mm thick. Why didn't it become a sensation? Because all the engineers knew very well that the road surface of the bridge was made of wood, i.e. had a low weight, which, as they believed, could withstand the cable. But in America this was taken seriously, and therefore the second quarter of the 1850th century was marked here by the widespread use of suspension bridges, in which the main load-bearing element (chain) was replaced by a cable (wire cable). This led to significant progress, as the cable had a higher strength than the chain and allowed the range of suspension bridges to be extended to very large spans. However, in 102 on the Maine River in France with a suspension bridge Basse-Chaîne Bridge 487 meters long, a disaster struck. During a strong wind, a detachment of soldiers came out to him. And when the 226th man stepped onto the bridge, the carrying cables burst, the bridge collapsed and fell into the river, dragging 1883 people with it. After this incident, the fascination with suspension bridges gave way to disappointment. That is why the erection in 486 of the famous Brooklyn Bridge (then it was called the "Bridge of Brooklyn and New York"), with a grandiose span for those times - 1903 meters, became a huge triumph for American engineers. Soon, in 488, the Williamsburgh Bridge in New York with a span of 1929 m was put into operation, in 563 - the Detroit Bridge with a span of 548 m, surpassing the previously built Quebec Bridge with a span of 1931 m. In 1067, it was built the bridge over the Hudson with a length of 40 m. - the first bridge that exceeded a kilometer span and finally consolidated the superiority of hanging systems. Of course, all this was well known to bridge engineer Joseph Strauss, who had already been involved in the construction of XNUMX bridges. But he had not built suspension bridges yet. Nevertheless, Joseph is actively involved in the struggle for the right to start

construction of the Golden Gate Bridge.

There is a legend that the idea to build a bridge that crosses the entrance to the San Francisco Bay dates back to 1872. It was voiced by the self-proclaimed emperor of the United States - Norton I. And although he was a very extravagant person and, roughly speaking, was considered an "urban madman", in San Francisco he was treated with care. He roamed the city on a bicycle in his old military uniform, with no money or property. Nevertheless, Norton issued various orders in the newspapers and were happy to publish them. A decree was also published that the city needed to build a bridge across the strait, in which the place of its construction was also indicated. Then his decree was not taken seriously, but years later they built a bridge exactly where he pointed out - in the narrowest part of the strait.

Фото: Depositphotos

Decades passed, and already in 1916 the publisher of the San Francisco Call Bulletin - James Wilkins decided to remind the residents of San Francisco about the bridge project. Consultations began with experts on its technical feasibility and possible cost. The discussion was also attended by Joseph Baermann Strauss, by that time already quite an experienced engineer in bridge construction. However, his proposal to build a generally traditional bridge that combined cantilever towers and suspension spans was rejected. And then he changed the project and, using the latest achievements in the field of metallurgy, proposed to build a suspension bridge. From an engineering point of view, it was quite difficult to implement such a project. It was necessary to take into account the depth of the bay, which exceeded 100m; powerful ocean currents arising from ebb and flow; frequent fogs - preventing continuous construction work; increased seismic hazard of the terrain, and even block - the never-before-achieved value of a free span of 1.3 km. At the same time, under the bridge during construction, ocean merchant and military ships were supposed to pass continuously and freely.

In the meantime, all these considerations and discussions dragged on, a great depression began in the country, which, due to a lack of funding, could put an end to even an already agreed project. However, first of all, it was necessary to solve a huge number of organizational problems. The main one was opposition to the construction of the leadership of the navy, based in the bay, whose representatives feared that the dimensions of the bridge, the long duration of construction, possible accidents, etc. can lead to blockage of access to the open ocean. Which, as you can imagine, was of paramount importance to them. But Strauss was ready to make any concessions just to save the project. And then taking the indicated height of the installation of the bottom of the road structures of the bridge over the strait at 67 m, he added 9 m of the road surface to them, 3 m - the distance from the lower point of the cable's deflection to the road, and 140 m - the depth of its deflection, he received the required the height of the Golden Gate towers is 219 m. This suited the military, and in the end he agreed with them on all issues. It turned out to be much easier to solve the problems with the protesting trade unions. Joseph promised them to use only local construction workers in the construction of the bridge and personally monitor compliance with the safety rules of work on the site. And he kept his promise. He introduced for all workers the wearing of miner's helmets, anti-glare goggles, the installation of safety ropes, the use of a protective cream from the wind for the hands and face. The fitters even ate a special diet to avoid vertigo. At times, his demands took on anecdotal form. So, at the beginning of the working day, he demanded that the foremen necessarily distribute to the workers (as a remedy for a hangover) - sauerkraut juice. The opposition between the owners of the ferry companies became a serious stumbling block. Naturally, their entire long-term business was at stake. And although in December 1922 the Strauss plan was accepted by the city authorities, it took him another six years of litigation with the owners of the ferry companies, who own all the rights to transport transport across the strait. But in 1928, congestion on ferry crossings became unmanageable. Crowds of people waited for their turn for hours, and sometimes days. Ultimately, Strauss won this battle too. Finally, in 1930, after promising the city that the construction would cost about $ 20-30 million (it turned out that at 35), and within a few years he would pay off by collecting tolls, he nevertheless approved the project. This happened in the midst of the Great Depression, so direct construction began only on January 5, 1933, thanks to the fact that F.D. Roosevelt defeated Hoover, who was unable to end poverty in the country, and proclaimed a "New Deal" to revive the economy. And although there were still four long years of construction work ahead, Joseph breathed a sigh of relief. The goal he had been striving for for so long was achieved.

Screenshot from video posted on British pathé youtube channel

And he was born in 1870 in Cincinnati (Ohio), into an intelligent family of Jewish immigrants from Germany. His father, Raphael Strauss, was engaged in painting and literature, and his mother, Caroline Berman, was a pianist. It is known that Joseph himself was fond of poetry and music from childhood, and it was impossible even to imagine that he would glorify his name as an engineer. Short and unsportsmanlike, Joseph was no different from his peers. One day, after being hospitalized after being injured during a football match, he found himself in a room where the graceful silhouette of the Cincinnati-Covington Bridge was visible from the windows. He passed it many times and knew that it was built by John Röbling, who made his name famous with the newly erected bridge from Brooklyn to Manhattan. But now he had no choice but to look out the window and notice more and more new features and details in it. As biographers suggest, it was then that he had a dream to become like Röbling, and to build the largest bridge in the world. (How intricately life is knitting its patterns. Had it not been for this case, Joseph would have become a writer, musician, or, in extreme cases, would have taken up economics, which he studied at the university. But he decided to build the famous bridge, and still built it. And already in our time, his fellow soldiers, admiring the orange-red silhouette of the "Golden Gate", decided to paint the bridge, which he admired as a child, also in some unusual color. And now, after painting, he became "Blue Röbling" ). And the young Joseph, after graduating from the University of Cincinnati in 1892, first worked as an engineer in the construction firm of Ralph Modjeski in Chicago, engaged in the design of drawbridges, and in 1904 he created his own architectural bureau - Strauss Bascule Bridge Company. However, the dream of a grandiose construction never leaves the designer, and eventually brings him to San Francisco. Of course, on his part, it was a complete gamble. And although he really had a lot of experience in building bridges, but not at all. He did not know anything about the cables, or about the methods of building suspension bridges, or about their design and calculations. But he had pressure, determination and exorbitant ambition. (By the way, about ambitions. While preparing for his thesis at the university, he took up the development of a topic no more, no less, like a bridge or a tunnel across the Bering Strait). But the main thing that could not be taken away from Joseph Strauss was his remarkable organizational skills.

And he suggests that the architectural part of the project be taken up by then-famous architect Morrow Irving, who had already completed a course of study at the universities of Berkeley and Beaux-Arts in Paris. He will give the bridge a graceful, elegant and strict contour, using elements of Art Deco style then popular in the design, and will offer to paint it in an unusual orange-red color. And also to illuminate the bridge at night - which will be completed only after 50 years. And, no less important, Strauss invites you to take part in the construction of one of the best specialists in suspension bridges - the Riga immigrant Lev Moiseev, who was a consultant on the construction of the Manhattan Bridge in New York. And Ellis Charles, a very knowledgeable and qualified mathematician, took up the calculations. But what were the calculations in those distant times, when there was no computer software, and serious computing equipment? This is how Kevin Star, a professor of history at the University of Southern California, wrote about this: "In those days they had a notebook and two pencils, and they did all the calculations on paper and in the head." Not to mention that the methods of calculations themselves were imperfect then. Bridge builders using metal trusses are well aware of the story of how bridge scientist D. Zhuravsky, to determine the difference in stresses in the truss rods, made wire models, then loaded them, and passed them along the rods with a bow. The highest pitch was at the pillars of the supports, and closer to the center, it decreased. Thus, a theory was created by trial and error. And in the suspension bridges, where only the cable was actually involved, and it was impossible. Here, a lot depended on the experience, qualifications and intuition of the calculators. However, later, when all the main work will actually be done by them, conflicts will begin in the team and Strauss will dismiss both of them, ostensibly without even paying off. At least, their names you will not find on a memorial plaque placed on the bridge. (And only in our time, when drawings and calculations made by Ellis will be found in the archive, he will be given posthumous honors). And although then, in support of Strauss, other engineers were accepted, but now during the whole construction time he had to actually solve all the organizational issues for the construction of a bridge, and for interacting with contractors. We began with the device anchor structures, then moved to the construction of concrete foundations for the towers. The tower's support from the side of San Francisco was located at 335 meters from the coast, which required the construction of an additional dam and significantly complicated the work. The fact is that the water depth in this place exceeded 90 m; and during ebb and flow such a fast current arose that the work had to be stopped. It could only be carried out in those short hours, when the huge waves calmed down and the tide was replaced by an ebb tide or vice versa.

The tower’s support from the Marine District was erected in shallow water, near the shore, so its concreting was much easier. Then they erected the supports themselves, which were assembled from individual modules, holding together approximately 1,2 million steel rivets. In honor of the completion of this most difficult construction, the last scored rivet was made of gold. At the next stage, it was necessary to transfer the cables from one anchor, through the tower, to the opposite bank to the second tower and its anchor, and combine them into a common bundle. Each cable consisted of 27000 individual 5-millimeter wires, tightly woven into strong beams with a total diameter of 92,5, see. In the end, a roadbed was suspended on the cables. He began to build immediately on both sides, and at the same time, to avoid sagging of the cables. And finally, on May 27 of the year 1937, ahead of schedule, the grand opening of the Golden Gate Bridge took place.

Pedestrians were the first to enter, and the next day, at a signal from President Roosevelt, he was "open to cars and the whole world." At the meeting, at its opening, Strauss read his own poem written by him on this occasion and said: “This bridge does not need praise or panegyrics. He speaks for himself. We, who have worked so long, are grateful. The fact that Nature has long been split into pieces, today man has connected

So the bridge was built, which, with the length of 2737 m., And the size of the main span - 1280 m., Became the largest suspension bridge in the world, from the moment of its opening in the 1937 year to the 1964 year. Having promised the unions to continuously monitor the safety of their workers, Strauss, for the first time in the practice of erecting suspension bridges, pulled a protective net under the construction site. This saved the lives of many workers who had accidentally slipped from the bridge. But once a misfortune happened. Logs from a collapsed system of scaffolding, broke the net when it fell and carried 10 people along. The death of these people was hard for the whole leadership.

You can imagine how Strauss would be amazed if he knew that after the construction was completed, about 1700 people completed their lives by throwing him down - into the boiling water, and his favorite child would become one of the most popular places for suicides in the world. And that, on average, suicide attempts occur on this bridge every two weeks. Numerous suggestions about the device on the bridge fence, always met here repulse. Opponents believed that installing fences would only spoil the appearance of the bridge, and would only lead to a change in the place of suicide. In the end, it was only in 2018 that the designers (partially using the ideas of Strauss, who hung safety nets under the bridge), offered to install metal consoles with a horizontal netting device far below both sides of the bridge. It is assumed that in a couple of years this proposal will be implemented, and the gray grid with orange-red painted consoles will in fact merge with the bridge structures and will be completely invisible from afar. But while the bridge continues to be patrolled by the local police and security agencies cooperating with it. And along its span, special telephones were installed, through which potential suicides could contact the crisis counseling center. The inscriptions near these phones report: “There is hope. Make the call. "The consequences of jumping from this bridge are fatal and tragic." ("There is hope. Call. The consequences of a jump from this bridge are fatal and tragic.") Yet, some people managed to survive. A total of about 30 people. However, almost all of them received very serious injuries, and then they had to be treated for a long time in the hospital.

So there were some inconsistencies in the image of the bridge. On the one hand, it was already known all over the world as a reliable, elegant and beautiful structure, with a romantic name, mysteriously peeping out of the eternal mists and calling for distant wanderings into a mysterious world where all dreams, desires and dreams will certainly come true. On the other hand, there is Suicide Bridge. This duality of the image created for him a very special aura, which was not only immediately caught, but also adopted by many directors who began to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge in cult films, especially in the genres of fantasy and action films. Such as: "Superman", "Escape from Alcatraz", "Interview with the Vampire", "X-Men: The Last Stand", "Terminator May the Savior Come", "Terminator: Genisys", "Pacific Rim" and up to fifty other films.

After the construction was completed, Strauss received a great reward from the city and the right to lifelong free travel on the bridge. However, he had to use this privilege for a very short time: a year after the opening of the Golden Gate, he passed away. He was 68 years old, and his heart just could not stand the huge nervous and physical overloads of recent years. Later, grateful townspeople, next to the bridge he built, will erect a bronze monument to him.

Which he undoubtedly deserves. After all, this bridge was built primarily thanks to his perseverance, energy, patience, contact and, most importantly, his unconditional belief in success. For the last 15 years of his life, he fought hard for his project, overcoming numerous obstacles. Even when everyone around was convinced of the impossibility of its implementation and the futility of the struggle. But he nevertheless continued to raise funds, obtain building permits, conclude contracts and settle numerous conflicts. Including with the ferry companies, which were afraid of competition, and with the Ministry of Defense, which at first feared interference with the movement of warships across the strait, and later demanded to paint the bridge "black-yellow-striped" (which would disfigure the entire structure), and then also with trade unions ...

Фото: Depositphotos

The impression was that when everyone realized that it was the connection of San Francisco with Northern California that would save the Californian economy from a deep crisis, and the urgent need for this bridge specifically for the city - no one but him wanted to make any serious efforts to implementation of this task. Not to mention the fact that until the last day many did not believe that this bridge would still be built and put into operation. But when everything seemed to have been overcome, it was only then that real hell began for him. For four consecutive years, every day, he had to solve problems and tasks for which he was not ready, and with which he was not familiar. But his firm confidence in his mission, forced him to move only forward, and to solve issues that not only him, but in general no one else had to solve.

Of course, he had an amazing instinct, and he almost always managed to find the right solution. Naturally, during subsequent reconstructions, a number of errors will be revealed. But the specialists who discovered them 30-40 years after the completion of the work already possessed completely different knowledge, experience and technology. But in 1951, when San Francisco was hit by a strong hurricane, and under the influence of a terrible storm, the bridge deviated to the right by almost 8 meters, the structures still survived and remained unharmed. The same thing happened in 1989, when the city suffered a major earthquake. The bridge withstood again, and its damage was minor. So, we can confidently say that the city was lucky with Joseph Strauss. (There was another Strauss in San Francisco, with whom he was also lucky. Levi Strauss, the creator of Levi`s jeans - another brand that made the city famous).

Фото: Depositphotos

But as the years passed, bridge building gained experience and tried to increase the span length more and more. The roadbed began to be reinforced with longitudinal beams or load-distributing trusses. Methods for increasing rigidity and decreasing vibrations, measures to protect against wind gusts and earthquakes have been developed. When designing bridges, cable-stayed structures were introduced more and more widely. Already in 1965, the Verrazano-Nerrows Bridge was built in New York, with an average length of 1298 m - the last American world record, which is still the country's record. And in 1997, the Akashi-Kaikyo bridge was built in Japan, which twice entered the Guinness Book of Records: as the longest suspension bridge (its free span was 1991 m), and as the tallest bridge. Its pylons rose to a height of 297 m, which is higher than a ninety-story building, and the total length was 3911 m. Nevertheless, the Golden Gate, among the thousands of suspension bridges around the world, occupy a place in the fifteen most famous. And we can endlessly talk about the love of all the residents of San Francisco and the country for him. But is it possible to say better about the beauty and greatness of the Golden Gate than the heroes of Jack London, a writer who was born and worked in this city: “... don't you ever think that you will simply die of boredom if you don’t know that over those hills, over the next and the next? And the Golden Gate! Behind them the Pacific Ocean, China, Japan, India and ... and the Coral Islands. You can sail through the Golden Gate wherever you want: to Australia, to Africa, to seal rookeries, to the North Pole, to Cape Horn. And now it seems to me that all these places are just waiting for me to come to see them. "

Who among us has not dreamed of distant countries. How many have left, swam away, or flew away from their homes. With all the options - hit the road. And there are those who ended up staying forever here in sunny southern San Francisco. And many still only dream of getting here. To this delightfully beautiful city nestled in the hills. Diverse and varied, where the past and the future are connected at every step. A city that stores hundreds of stories and legends, and wants to tell them to you. As the first guides advertised themselves in ancient times: "42 legends and sights on 42 hills await you." These rolling hills, the cable car and Lombard Street with eight sharp bends, make the journey a thrilling top-down ride. There is an ultra-modern office center with Salesforce Tower, Transamerica Pyramid and Millennium Tower, and the historic Telegraph Hill with Coit Tower. Curious Victorian mansions in upmarket Nob Hill, trendy shops in the relaxed gay Castro neighborhood, and the world's largest Chinatown. And how nice is the Embarcadero going along the port quay; the famous pier 39, with its fish restaurants; the Hyatt Regency, with a revolving rooftop restaurant; or Baker Beach, with an excellent view of the Golden Gate.

It is worth coming here in the evening, going out to the bay, settling down on its shore, putting your face under the breeze, looking at the bay and checking the impressions of Jack London with his own: “The bay shone like a strip of molten metal, and here and there the sails of ships glittered white , then motionless, then lazily sliding with the flow. In the distance, in a silvery mist, Tamalpais towered; The Golden Gate really gilded in the rays of the setting sun ... ". And now, in the deepening twilight, the bridge will rise before you in all its glory. Admiring not at all by powerful, sending back to the Middle Ages, supports, or by the large ligature of the supporting chains, but by some elusive airiness, a delicate and perfect stroke of the architect. Its impeccable, forever youthful Art Deco, gracefully applied to the shores of the bay just where the colors of water and sky merge. And it seems that even the fogs visit him only to make us look more closely at his bizarre outlines on the horizon. The pride and business card of San Francisco, and one of the main symbols of not only the City, California, the West, but the whole country. Bridge "Golden Gate", which now, already saying goodbye to us, "really" is gilded in the rays of the setting sun.

This article by ForumDaily author, journalist Leonid Rajewski is part of the “History of American Symbols” series.

Read also on ForumDaily:

Bison: The History of the American Symbol

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