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How many years did it take to build San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge?

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The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is one of the world’s most famous bridges. This iconic bridge spans 1.7 miles and connects San Francisco to Marin County. When it was completed in 1937, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world and considered an engineering marvel. It was a massive and expensive project, though, which led to the deaths of some of its builders and took years to create. How long did it take to build the Golden Gate Bridge? Take a look at the options below, take a guess, and then scroll down to find the answer and learn more about this San Francisco landmark!

a) 4 years
b) 6 years
c) 12 years
d) 20 years

Scroll down for the answer!

The famous Golden Gate Bridge

The famous Golden Gate Bridge (Photo credit: ventdusud, Depositphotos.com)

Why is it called the Golden Gate Bridge?

Despite its orange color, the structure was named the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s named for the Golden Gate Strait, the stretch of water below the bridge that links the Pacific Ocean to the San Francisco Bay.

Golden Gate Bridge over the Golden Gate Strait

Golden Gate Bridge over the Golden Gate Strait (Photo credit: nito103, Depositphotos.com)

Why is the Golden Gate Bridge orange instead of gold?

Even if the bridge was named for the strait and not its color, it would make sense to paint the bridge gold. Right? Originally the creators intended to paint the bridge blue and yellow so that it would be easily visible in the San Francisco fog. When the Golden Gate Bridge was painted orange with primer paint, however, it was decided that orange was even easier to see and more attractive. So, the orange stuck. Gold would be pretty, but not practical. The bridge’s official color is international orange.

The Golden Gate Bridge's international orange color, up-close

The Golden Gate Bridge’s international orange color, up-close (Photo credit: kwiktor, Depositphotos.com)

How many people died building the Golden Gate Bridge?

Building the Golden Gate Bridge was no small feat. Fog and slippery steel beams made building the bridge particularly dangerous. A safety net was installed below the bridge, which saved the lives of 19 workers, who became known as the Half Way to Hell Club. Despite this safety precaution, sadly 11 builders were not so lucky and died during the construction of the landmark bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge surrounded by fog

Fog added to the difficulties in building the Golden Gate Bridge (Photo credit: radkol, Depositphotos.com)

Answer: It took four years to build the Golden Gate Bridge!

The answer is a) 4 years. Construction began in January 0f 1933 and was open to automobile traffic in May of 1937. Today the Golden Gate Bridge is known around the world. It acts as a symbol of San Francisco, the City by the Bay. About 112,000 cars pass over the bridge every day!

For years, building the Golden Gate Bridge seemed impossible. In fact, it was known as “the bridge that couldn’t be built.” The Golden Gate Strait presented a lot of challenges due to strong tides, wind and fog, not to mention its proximity to the San Andreas Fault. It was approximated to cost over $100 million to build until structural engineer, Joseph Strauss, took on the project. As chief engineer, he was able to build the Golden Gate Bridge for between $27 to $35 million (depending on the source). That’s a lot less than others had originally projected, but in today’s dollars, that would be a whopping $1.5 billion!

Vintage-style photo of the Golden Gate Bridge

Vintage-style photo of the Golden Gate Bridge (Photo credit: palko72, Depositphotos.com)

Explore San Francisco

Now that you’ve learned how long it took to build the Golden Gate Bridge, I bet you want to go see it in-person in San Francisco! Beyond the bridge, San Francisco boasts some of the world’s best restaurants and the biggest Chinatown on the planet. From the massive Golden Gate Park and the world’s crookedest street, to the famous Pier 39 and Alcatraz Island, there’s much to explore in San Francisco. Got a Star Wars fan or comics lover in the family? Then you’ll want to read our geek’s guide to San Francisco before you go! Then, take a look at the best attractions in San Francisco according to TripAdvisor.

Lombard Street in San Francisco, the crookedest street in the world

Lombard Street in San Francisco, the crookedest street in the world (Photo credit: kwiktor, Depositphotos.com)

A great hotel is a must for your San Francisco vacation! For a charming hotel with a French accent in the heart of San Francisco, read our review of Hotel de Cornell. Or, take a peek at the best hotels in San Francisco.

San Francisco is one of the best destinations in California. Discover other fabulous California vacation destinations now!

American and French flags welcome guests to Cornell Hotel de France in San Francisco

American and French flags welcome guests to Cornell Hotel de France in San Francisco (Photo credit: Colleen Lanin)

More Travel Trivia

Do you love learning facts about the world? Then you’ll love checking out more of our travel trivia questions! Test your global knowledge with the questions below.

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Take a look at additional travel trivia questions!

How long did it take to build the Golden Gate Bridge?

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Have you ever seen the Golden Gate Bridge in-person? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

Comments
  1. Such fun trivia! I never knew any of this information, great post!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      My whole family is filled with trivia nuts so I love researching and writing these trivia questions. Glad you enjoyed!

  2. I grew up in San Jose, so I went to San Fran many times. The Golden Gate bridge is pretty spectacular!! It is so fun driving across or walking across it.

  3. This was such a great read! I’ve always loved the sheer scope of that bridge. I never really knew anything about it, though.

  4. The Joyous Living says

    what a fun post. i visited san francisco when i was in middle school. it’s amazing to think of how the bridge was built across water.

  5. Its such a beautiful bridge and one of my favorite! I love the color and am glad they stuck with orange. It truly is an interesting history and I’m so glad you shared it because I didn’t know any of that!

    Kileen

  6. Stephanie Stebbins says

    Very interesting, thank you!

  7. Emman Damian says

    San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is something I haven’t seen yet. I hope to see it soon. It looks so nice!

  8. Such great trivia for one of my favorite bridges in the world. Love driving across this bridge when I visit San Francisco

  9. Great tidbits on the bridge. I didn’t know people lost their lives building this and I never thought about why it was called The Golden Gate Bridge but it’s orange.

  10. katrina Kroeplin says

    san fran is amazing. i thought it would have taken longer to build that. such a beautiful bridge.

  11. Harshi & Aman (Trot.World) says

    This architecture is so stunning we absolutely love it and it was so fun learning about it more through this post! And gosh that crooked street in San Fran, truly a phenomena!

  12. Yellow and blue would have looked so strange! Maybe because we are so used to the orange. Much classier this way, I say! I’m imagining trying to navigate my car down that street, wow. Thanks for the good read.

    • Colleen Lanin says

      Ha! If you ever go to San Francisco, you must drive down Lombard Street! We did it when our kids were little and we had to go twice in a row because they thought it was so fun!

  13. Marie Phillips says

    This was a cool post! I guessed 12 years, lol. And now I want to know why the Golden Gate Strait is so named, lol. I end up going down these rabbit holes all the time!

    • Colleen Lanin says

      According to Wikipedia, “In his memoirs, John C. Frémont wrote, “To this Gate I gave the name of ‘Chrysopylae’, or ‘Golden Gate’; for the same reasons that the harbor of Byzantium was called Chrysoceras, or Golden Horn.”[6] He went on to comment that the strait was “a golden gate to trade with the Orient.” So there you have it! 🙂

  14. Autumn Murray says

    I had no idea of this extensive history of the Golden Gate Bridge and I have traveled to San Francisco several times. I can’t wait to travel again!

  15. Such a fun fact about the bridge color. I’m a native to CA and didn’t know this about the color choice for the bridge.

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