Michaela Merz

Happy 75th birthday Golden Gate Bridge

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It was considered impossible to build a bridge across the 1.5km sea strait. Storm, rain, fog and danger of earth quakes were regarded as technically not feasible. But nevertheless the bridge was opened on 28.5.1937. I celebrated the 75th birthday with ten thousands of enthusiasts and fireworks.

The two towers are 227m high and between them are two steel cables, each 0.92m thick and 2.3km long. Since its completion the bridge has been closed due to weather conditions only three times. The reasons were wind gusts of up to 120 km/h. It even withstood earthquakes.

The number of suicides however is terribly high. During the construction, 11 people died in accidents and since its completion 1500 people committed suicide. During my walk over the bridge I talked to a woman, whose son jumped off the bridge seven years ago. When he then left the house, she wanted to know, where to he is going. He said to the Golden Gate Bridge. Now she is regularly there and tries to prevent others from doing the same.

I walked from Crissy Field to Fort Point and across the entire bridge. One way 2 km with a fantastic view on San Francisco, the prison island Alcatraz and the hills of Marin County in the North. The weather was beautiful but very windy. Without my cap and warm jacket I would have hardly called it pleasant.

At its 50th birthday the bridge was closed for traffic and the bridge and the centre span of the bridge flattened out under the weight of 300’000 people and several visitors felt slightly unwell, when the bridge started to swing. Nothing happened but the celebrations for the 75th birthday were accompanied by automobile traffic. Vehicles have to pay a toll of USD 6, pedestrians and cyclists can cross the bridge for free.

The money is used for the costly maintenance. The orange paint protects the steel against corrosion. “International Orange” is a mixture of 100% yellow, 69% magenta and 6% black and internationally known. The US navy had wanted it to be painted with black and yellow stripes but that would not have been as beautiful as international orange.

The bridge is gracious, airy and impressive. Its 75th birthday was sensational. One could not imagine a better Sunday than the one is was, apart from the fact that in the evening I was completely done and the day ended with sunstroke.

The bridge was built during a big economic crisis. I asked myself, whether today we need again such bridges. For instance between Africa and Europe or between France and England. What? You say that this technically not feasible and too expensive? The same was said more than 75 years ago. But the Golden Gate Bridge is there, beautiful and economically very useful. Please let us again build some bridges.

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