This first one was taken from the Marin Headlands. Our apartment was in the Richmond District, very close to the Bridge and the Ocean. We could clearly hear the fog horns at our place, and it always felt so comforting. We felt safe, wrapped in the shroud of fog, all snug in our apartment, with the various horns singing out - first the resonant one on the Bridge, then 2 short higher pitched blasts from the Marin side, and when there were extremely foggy conditions, a very loud, deep bass fog horn from Mile Rock (located one mile outside the Gate). We felt so isolated from the rest of the world, as if San Francisco was an island, especially in our quiet neighborhood. You could go out to the little store around the corner at night and see the fog blowing up Geary Boulevard in the street lights.
One lazy Sunday afternoon we heard the fog horns start up, and we jumped in the car and raced over the Bridge to the Marin Headlands and we weren't disappointed!! This is another semi-foggy day, and I shot this from Fort Point on the San Francisco side, under the Bridge.
Here's a black and white, also taken from Fort Point, of the Bridge structure.
Another black & white of the Bridge soaring above Fort Point.
And this one I posted in December, of sunrise on Christmas Day 1991 or 1992, taken from the Marin Headlands.
- From 1775 to the 1840's, the straight was called "Boca del Puerto de San Francisco", or "Mouth of the Port of San Francisco.
- After the 1840's, John Fremont wrote in his memoirs that he would name the straight "The Golden Gate". The grasses on the Headlands and hills of the Bay Area turn bright gold in the summer months, so looking east from the ocean at the straight, it truly looks like a golden gate, esp. when Fremont saw it prior to the various cities being built.
- It's the second largest suspension bridge in the USA, after the Verrazano Narrows in NYC.
- The Bridge was completed in 1937, and is the engineering miracle of brainchild Joseph Strauss.
- Before there was a Bridge, the only way to get to Marin County and points north was to either take a ferry, or drive the long way around - south to San Jose, and then back north through the East Bay.
- The Bridge is not "gold", but International Orange. This is a common misconception. It's the straight entering into SF Bay that is "The Golden Gate".
- The fog forms because of the hot air rising off the land and the freezing cold waters of the ocean and SF Bay. That's why you can be standing in SF, looking across the Bay at Marin with blue sky all around, but a wall of fog between SF and Marin, with only the top points of the Bridge sticking up. You can watch the fog roll in, and then roll back out to sea. Sometimes you can be standing on the beach in bright sun and see the fog bank standing off shore, and then watch it barrel towards you in a matter of minutes.
- It's seen more than it's share of suicides....over 1,200 by this time I believe. The Bridge District wants to put up a suicide barrier but the Bay Area revolts against the idea every time it's mentioned.
- There's a moveable lane-barrier in the center, which allows for 4 lanes into San Francisco in the morning, and 4 lanes back north into Marin in the evening. The toll is now $5, going into SF only.
- It's been closed 4 times since it opened due to high winds. One stormy day in early 1996, I found myself on the ferry back to Marin because the Bridge was closed and I couldn't take my bus!! The ferry ride was a fun alternative and I'd take it from time to time in nice weather. I'd just pick up the bus at the Larkspur Landing ferry terminal.
- The speed limit of 45 mph and no lane changing are strictly enforced, to try to lessen the chance of deadly head-on collisions (something that happens frequently).
- There is a crew of about 30 or so workers under the Bridge every day, performing maintenance, earthquake retrofitting and painting. The painting never ever stops because of the corrosive salt water and air. These brave men have been instrumental in saving people who try to jump to their deaths, often risking their own lives to grab them as they fall. Sometimes you see them climbing up the swooping cables to the top of the towers. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to do that, even though you are roped to the guide cables.