Monday, May 7, 2007

Check This Out!

Most of the major cities in the United States or the world for that matter seem to have one thing they are famous for. Paris has the Eiffel Tower with its 1665 steps while Chicago’s Sears Tower stands strong as the tallest skyscraper in the world. The Taj Mahal in India was completed almost 400 years ago and it is impossible to make the guards laugh at London’s Buckingham Palace. San Francisco has so many amazing attractions it is hard to pick the one that stands out the most. However, the Golden Gate Bridge easily trumps candidates such as the Trans America building and Golden Gate Park.

The Golden Gate Bridge has become an international icon for San Francisco as well as the United States. It was painted orange vermilion which is known as "International Orange." As opposed to painting the bridge a more standard black or grey, it was painted orange to heighten visibility for sailors coming into the bay. The bridge opened to traffic on May 28, 1937, and as of June 2005, 1,779,032,891 vehicles had crossed the Golden Gate Bridge.

The facts and data about the GG bridge go on and on, but numbers and dates are not whats important. Maybe it is because I am from Chicago that I get so excited about the bridge. However, regardless of whether I am heading to Stinson beach for a day of fun or Marin Country Day School to coach a volleyball team, every time I am on that bridge a wave of excitement comes over me. Rusty Smith, who has been a toll booth worker for eleven years, said “I don’t know what it is about that bridge but the smiles on the faces that drive through here everyday are what keep me going.”

The 6,450 foot suspension bridge is absolutely breathtaking, whether it is glimmering in the hot summer sun or the towers are poking through dense San Francisco fog. If you have never been to San Francisco or never driven on the bridge…I strongly suggest you do.

1. Eleven men died during the construction of the bridge.
2. The “Half-Way-to-Hell-Club” is a group of 19 men, whose lives were saved by a safety net,
which was used as a precaution during the construction.
3. The bridge cost $35,000,000.
4. The two towers stand 746 feet above the water.
5. The bridge was originally named "Chrysopylae," meaning "golden gate," by Captain John
C. Fremont in 1846. (Thank God they rethought that one!)