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The Golden Gateway
Pictures and Story by Brad Perks
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Golden Gate Strait at sunrise 
.Golden Gate Strait at sunrise
The Golden Gate Bridge was named for the entrance to the San Francisco Bay. Army Captain John C. Fremont named the strait “Chrysopylae” or Golden Gate in 1846. Building a Bridge across this strait was a feat of modern engineering. People from around the world come to see its legendary beauty. The Golden Gate Bridge is one of my favorite places to take pictures. The dynamic location makes each day new.
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Golden Gate Bridge with traffic 
.Golden Gate Bridge 
seen from Vista Point
Charles Alton Ellis designed the Golden Gate Bridge. Construction of the Bridge started in January 5, 1933. The Bridge opened after four years on May 28, 1937. The cost in toady's money is estimated at 1.3 billion dollars. How and where they built the Bridge makes it impressive. Joseph P. Strauss was the Chief Engineer. He wrote these words when the Bridge was completed. 

At last the mighty task is done; 
Resplendent in the western sun 
The Bridge looms mountain high; 
Its titan piers grip ocean floor, 
Its great steel arms link shore with shore, 
Its towers pierce the sky. 
High overhead its lights shall gleam, 
Far, far below life’s restless stream, 
Unceasingly shall flow; 
For this was spun its lithe fine form, 
To fear not war, nor time, nor storm, 
For fate had meant it so.

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surfer at Golden Gate Strait 
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Surfing the Golden Gate Strait
at Fort Point
“Life’s restless stream” below the Golden Gate Bridge races along at 4.5 to 7 knots. The Pacific Ocean “unceasingly shall flow” into the San Francisco Bay. Rivers of fresh water from the Sacramento Delta are forever pushing their way to the Ocean. This funneling of water happens along the 1 mile opening to the Golden Gate Strait. The waters are so choppy that boaters call this area the corn patch.  This is where they choose to build the Bridge. 

“Titan piers grip ocean floor”. To build the pier supporting the South Tower they first built a fender in this torrent of water. Then they pumped 35.6 million liters of water out of the fender and filled it with cement. The total weight of this anchorage is 60,000 tons = 54,400,000 kg.  

“The Bridge looms mountain high”. “Its towers pierce the sky” and rise up 746 feet above the water. The length of the suspension span is 1.2 miles = 1,966 m. The roadway is suspended 220 ft = 67 m above high water. The total combined weight of the Bridge today is 887,000 tons = 804,700,000 kg. 

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“Its great steel arms link shore with shore”. The cables connecting each end of the Bridge look delicate when seen from a distance. They are actually 27,572 wires woven together 6 wires at a time. The individual wires are the size of a pencil. 80,000 miles of wire were used to make the cables. The finished cables ended up to be three feet thick. Now they were ready to start hanging the roadway from the cables. 

The original roadway was made with concrete. The weight was reduced 12,300 tons in 1986 when a new roadway was installed. It was a lightweight steal deck covered in epoxy cement. The roadway actually lifted up several feet when it was replaced. The roadway was closed to vehicles for “Bridgewalk 87” as part of the 50th anniversary celebration. It is estimated that 300,000 people walked onto the roadway. This was the single biggest load ever carried by the Bridge. The roadway flattened out under the weight of the people. Engineers were busy making calculations to see if the Bridge could handle the load. It bent and did not break. The Bridge was designed to be very flexible. It can swing an amazing 27 feet and flex 10 feet under a big load. 

Golden Gate Bridge Tower 
Golden Gate Bridge 
from Marin Headlands at sunrise
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Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco Skyline 
.Golden Gate Bridge  
with ocean fog
Costs were high for the Golden Gate Bridge. 11 workers gave their life to build the Bridge. 10 people perished in a singe accident. This was one-third the fatalities that were expected. 19 other workers were saved by a safety net that was installed under the roadway. These 19 were said to be members of the “Halfway-to-Hell-Club”.  

The Golden Gate Bridge presently has 40 million crossings per year. The Bridge has seen over 1.8 billion vehicle crossings since its opening. The toll was 50 cents each direction in 1937. The toll in the southbound direction is now 5 dollars. 10 million visitors from around the world come to admire the Bridge each year.  It is San Francisco’s most recognizable landmark and tourist attraction.

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Lighting on Golden Gate Bridge Tower 
New lighting on 
Golden Gate Bridge Towers
“High overhead its lights shall gleam”. Irving F. Morrow designed a lighting scheme for the Golden Gate Bridge that would accent its unique design. 128 new amber roadway lights were installed in 1972. Morrow’s original designs were almost complete. The Bridge towers began to glow in the evening sky on May 22, 1987. A beacon was installed on top of each tower. Great lighting is the key to taking great pictures. Twilight is now spectacular at the Bridge. The Golden Gate now provides its own great lighting. Nature’s light combines with lighting on the Golden Gate Bridge to form powerful combinations.
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The Golden Gate Bridge is one of my favorite places to photograph. The beauty of “its lithe fine form” is spectacular. The Art Deco design is a timeless treasure. I see tourists lining up for an I-was-here snap shot. Seems like I have been asked a hundred times in a hundred different languages to take their pictures. I am easy to find. I am the one with the biggest tripod. I use a smile, which is my best sign language. I compose the picture with the Bridge in the background and press the button. 

There are a number of designated parking areas with great views of the Bridge. My favorites are on the Marin County side. Head North on Highway 101 and cross the Bridge. The first exit is Vista Point at the North end of the Bridge. You can look right down the roadway of the Bridge. The arch in the roadway is noticeable from this location. Vista Point is also a popular spot to take your camera and walk across the Bridge. You can see the details close up on those magnificent towers. 

 

rush hour at Golden Gate Bridge from Vista Point 
.Vista Point at the Golden Gate
showing new roadway
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The Marin Headlands is superior spot for pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. You can also stretch your legs on the Bay Trail. Take the Sausalito exit heading North on Highway 101. You can access the Marin Headlands by turning west and crossing under the freeway. The first turnout has a path leading to an old bunker from World War II. The bunker places you directly above the roadway. This is the traditional wide-angle postcard view of the Bridge. The Bay Trail leads down to Kirby Cove and the Golden Gate Strait. Kirby Cove has a camping area and sandy beach. The beach offers a unique perspective. You can see San Francisco from under the Bridge.  

There are a few more turnouts as you head West on the Marin Headlands. The Bridge towers rise up and greet the San Francisco Skyline from the Headlands. San Francisco becomes centered between the two towers at top of the hill. The road goes to Battery Point Lighthouse and the Pacific Coast. Near the ocean there are views of the Bridge in the distance looking back through an unspoiled landscape. The road wraps back around to Sausalito where there is food and shopping a plenty.

San Francisco Golde Gate on a clear dayGolden Gate Bridge from
Marin Headlands at Sunset
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The Golden Gate Bridge offers new compositions everyday. Drama exists between the Earth and skies, the ocean fog and Bay, and the Bridge and San Francisco skyline. The warm orange color of the Bridge reflects the color of the landscape and contrasts the coolness of a blue sky. The last golden light of day casts its glow on top the Bridge and San Francisco. The twilight sky can turn pastel colors before sunset. Some days the fog arrives at sunset when the full moon is rising in the East. Fog can make the city look like it is floating in the clouds. You might even see rainbows if you’re lucky. These dramatic and variable lighting conditions lead to endless possibilities. 
 
Golden Gate Bridge with Fog at twilight 
.Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco Skyline
floating in the fog
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Golden Gate Bridge with Rainbow 
.Rainbow over San Francisco  
and the Golden Gate Bridge 
“The mighty task is done”. The Golden Gate is a marvel of modern engineering. The Bridge now stands as a testament to mans' determination to conquer natural barriers. It has endured large earthquakes, heavy loads and has stood the test of time. The beauty of the Bridge draws spectators and photographers from around the World. It continues to inspire me to take more pictures. Each day is new for “fate had meant it so”.
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All Images © Brad Perks - May not be used without permission
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Learn and More about the Golden Gate Bridge
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BRAD  PERKS PC Image Network
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