Today is the 70th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge. It was opened on May 27th, 1937, and was the world's longest suspension bridge until the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge opened in New York City in 1964.
The Golden Gate Strait joins San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean. The bridge connects San Francisco to Marin County, and as both US Highway 101 and California State Highway 1, is the only northerly route out of the city.
The bridge was the idea of Joseph Strauss, an engineer who had designed hundreds of drawbridges. He spent over a decade gathering support for the project. Architect Irving Morrow collaborated on the design, adding Art Deco touches and choosing the color, Industrial Orange, while engineer Charles Alton Ellis and bridge designer Leon Moisseiff were responsible for the complicated mathematics involved.
The cost was over $27 million.
I love the concept of a bridge.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a notorious site for suicides. The official jumper count ended in 1995 when the number approached 1,000, and is considerably higher now. It is estimated that a person leaps off the bridge every 15 days.
The 220-foot fall from the bridge takes four seconds and jumpers hit the water at 75 miles per hour. Only 26 people are known to have survived the jump. Those who did struck the water feet first and suffered multiple internal injuries and broken bones.
One young woman may be the only person to have jumped from the bridge twice. She survived her first jump in early 1988, but died in her second attempt later that year.
Methods have been discussed to reduce the number of suicides. The bridge has been closed to pedestrians at night, although cyclists are still permitted. Attempts to introduce a suicide barrier have been thwarted by engineering difficulties, high costs, and public opposition on aesthetic grounds. It has also been argued that making the bridge a more difficult place to end ones life would only move suicides elsewhere.
The Bureau of Inverse Technology has deployed a number of Suicide Boxes containing motion-detecting cameras to monitor suicides and correlate, in real-time, the number of jumpers with the Dow Jones Industrial Index to create their novel Despondency Index.
I think that becoming a statistic should be enough of a deterrent. Plus, that is some of the coldest water anywhere.
It's stunning to consider a life so utterly miserable that death would be preferable. Such intense aloneness is hard to imagine. A lot of people would have failed to give someone a sense of worth to bring him or her to that point, as death by bridge is a very large crack to fall through.
There will not be a celebration or even cake on this special anniversary. No fireworks. It isn't easy to keep a low profile when you are famous and beautiful, but the stately landmark's handlers are contemplating yet another fare increase over the $5 it now costs to traverse the bridge and are hoping that no one will notice.
Let's raise a glass to a grand old girl, gateway to a