But I did it! Finally! After talking about it and thinking about it for years, I finally walked across the bridge and back. Although San Francisco is known for its cold and foggy summers, the day I chose to take a solo walk across the bridge actually turned out to be a fairly warm, summery June day. (Side note: the quote "the coldest winer I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco" is not actually attributable to Mark Twain, despite popular opinion. Even more surprising,, the original quote wasn't even about San Francisco.)
While we're on the subject, here are some interesting facts about the Golden Gate Bridge you may not know:
- The bridge was originally supposed to be painted either black or the garishly ugly combination of black and yellow stripes so that ships at sea could see it through the fog. When the steel arrived, it was coated in a primer of the burnt reddish orange color (called "International Orange") we now see today. Thankfully, assistant architect Irving Morrow recognized the potential, and an icon was born.
- The Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge were being built at the same time during the Great Depression. Both projects helped the Bay Area stay below the national unemployment average. The Golden Gate Bridge opened just 6 months after the Bay Bridge, in 1937.
- (Only!) eleven lives were lost during the construction of the bridge, which, despite sounding high, actually set a safety record for this kind of construction at the time. A safety net was installed under the bridge during construction, which saved the lives of 19 men. By contrast, 30 men died in the construction of the Bay Bridge. Thank Goodness standards have changed since then!
- In 1987, on the Bridge's 50th Anniversary celebration, approximately 800,000 people showed up on foot, causing the bridge to entirely flatten out - eliminating its arch altogether. While rumors claim the Bridge was near collapse, officials say that the cables were only at 40% of their yielding stress. That is one safe bridge!
Lo and behold, as I approached the end of Crissy Field, the fog began to lift. By the time I made it to the bridge itself, the fog was only coming in thin wisps (Thanks Karl!). Despite the sunshine and disappearing fog, it was still very windy, and therefore quite cold. I am thankfully blessed with an above average internal temperature, or I would have probably been freezing in just shorts.
Despite these obstacles, I made it across the bridge, where I took just a moment or two to think about this bucket goal I had finally accomplished after all these years. Hungry and just a bit tired, I headed back the other direction, stopping to take a few final awe-inspiring photos as I went. Ok, so I may have been playing the part of annoying tourist myself, but it was worth it.