Tuesday, January 5, 2016

On This Day: Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge Begins January 5, 1933

Anton Refregier, Building the Golden Gate, 1948
Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith; courtesy of the Library of Congress
1938: The American Institute of Steel Construction hailed it as the “most beautiful steel bridge built in the United States last year.”

1984–2001: The American Society of Civil Engineers declared it a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark (1984), one of seven Civil Engineering Wonders of the United States (1994), one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World (1995), and a Monument of the Millennium (2001).

1994: The Society of American Registered Architects honored it with a Distinguished Building Award.

1999: It was designated a San Francisco Designated Landmark and recognized as one of the Top Ten Construction Achievements of the 20th Century.

2000: It won the Second Annual Gustav Lindenthal Medal as the most significant engineering project of the 20th century.

When it was built, the Golden Gate Bridge was celebrated as a triumph of engineering—the world’s longest single-span suspension bridge. Its impact on the city and region was immediate and widespread—reducing or suspending ferry service and fostering regional identity and economy. As historian Janet Fireman notes, “The growth of the city, once a cause for the bridge’s construction, now was its effect.”
Golden Gate Bridge, 2012
Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith, courtesy of Library of Congress
Today, the bridge—symbolized by soaring orange towers of inspiration—retains its status as an architectural masterpiece for its design and construction, scale, and beauty. We honor it below with a series of photographs in the California Historical Society Collections. They were made by Ted Huggins, a photographer and public relations representative for Standard Oil Company.

Huggins captured the bridge’s construction from 1934 to 1937, when the bridge was completed. His images recognize the contributions of the men who built the bridge as well as the bridge’s extraordinary undertaking.

Shelly Kale
Publications and Strategic Initiatives Manager

Download Free eBook
A Wild Flight of the Imagination: The Story of the Golden Gate Bridge

“A bridge across the Golden Gate, heretofore considered a wild flight of the imagination has . . . become a practical proposition,” wrote Joseph B. Strauss, the bridge’s chief engineer, and San Francisco’s city engineer Michael O’Shaugnessy in their 1922 pamphlet Bridging “The Golden Gate.”

Produced by 36 Views co-founder Kerry Tremain as the companion publication for the California Historical Society's inspiring exhibition of the same name (February 26–October 14, 2012), this interactive multimedia app captures the rich history and amazing story of the Golden Bridge on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. Over 350 historic objects, dozens of photographs and other ephemera from the CHS collection, and special interactive components are featured, including:

  • Photographs by Ansel Adams and Dorthea Lange
  • Paintings by Maynard Dixon, Ray Strong, and Chesley Bonestell

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