BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION ON THIS DAY ~ 1933

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Construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge, as workers began excavating
3.25 million cubic feet of dirt for the structure’s huge anchorages.

Following the Gold Rush boom that began in 1849, speculators realized the
land north of
San Francisco Bay would increase in value in direct proportion
to its accessibility to the city. Soon, a plan was hatched to build a bridge that
would span the Golden Gate, a narrow, 400-foot deep strait that serves as the mouth of the San Francisco Bay, connecting the San Francisco Peninsula with
the southern end of Marin County.

Although the idea went back as far as 1869, the proposal took root in 1916. A
former engineering student, James Wilkins, working as a journalist with the
San Francisco Bulletin, called for a suspension bridge with a center span of
3,000 feet, nearly twice the length of any in existence. Wilkins’ idea was
estimated to cost an astounding $100 million. So, San Francisco’s city
engineer, Michael M. O’Shaughnessy (he’s also credited with coming up
with the name Golden Gate Bridge), began asking bridge engineers whether
they could do it for less.

Engineer and poet Joseph Strauss, a 5-foot tall Cincinnati-born Chicagoan,
said he could.

Eventually, O’Shaughnessy and Strauss concluded they could build a pure suspension bridge within a practical range of $25-30 million with a main span
at least 4,000 feet. The construction plan still faced opposition, including
litigation, from many sources. By the time most of the obstacles were cleared,
the
Great Depression of 1929 had begun, limiting financing options, so officials convinced voters to support $35 million in bonded indebtedness, citing the
jobs that would be created for the project. However, the bonds couldn’t be
sold until 1932, when San-Francisco based Bank of America agreed to buy
the entire project in order to help the local economy.

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posted by Bob Karm in ANNIVERSARY,Bridge,Construction,HISTORY and have No Comments

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