Political and legal delays
resulted in nearly a decade between Joseph Strauss' first design proposal
for the Golden Gate Bridge -- an unsightly railroad trestle that would
have blocked views and sunsets -- and his appointment to serve as chief
engineer. His associates on the project included resident engineer Russell
Cone, consultants O.H. Ammann and Leon Moisseiff, University of California,
Berkeley professor of engineering Charles Derleth, Jr., and retired UC
geology professor Andrew C. Lawson.
But it was chief assistant
engineer Clifford Paine and architect Irving Morrow who actually deserve
credit for the design and construction of the bridge that stands today.
Morrow designed the towers with a subtlety of ornamentation and an understanding
of height and perspective. He is also responsible for the offset bays and
large curving walkways around the towers encouraging Bridge pedestrians
to pause and enjoy the view.
Construction of the bridge
began on January 5, 1933. Foundations were dug out of the hillsides to
hold the deep-set anchorages that would support the concrete pylons. Strong
tides and heavy swells hampered construction of the south pier, the keystone
of the entire structure, which required excavating in hard rock 65 feet
below the surface of the water.
The steel sections of the
Bridge's towers were fabricated in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and sent by
rail to East Coast seaports where they shipped via the Panama Canal to
the McClintic-Marshall Corporation's storage yards in Alameda. From Alameda
the steel was taken by barge across the Bay to the Golden Gate construction
site. The girders were hoisted by giant cranes and erected by gangs of
men working in teams to bond the sections together with rivets and hot
Strauss chose John A. Roebling
and Sons of New Jersey, builders of the Brooklyn Bridge, to spin the cables.
Because no derrick could lift cables as heavy as these would be, the Roebling
Company spun the cables on site, from anchorages in San Francisco and Marin.
Steel saddles provided a seat for the cables (and workers) as they passed
over the tower tops. The crews spinning the cables used catwalks to travel
from one side of the channel to the other. These catwalks of wire rope
and redwood planking were the first structures to span the Golden Gate.
Six months later, when the cabling was completed, the roadway was built.
The roadway is comprised of poured concrete with copper expansion joints
every fifty feet.