June 1936

The most dramatic safety feature in bridge-building history is introduced at the Golden Gate Bridge work site. A large net is slung under the entire bridge, at a cost of over $130,000. It hangs 60 feet below the construction workers, and ultimately saves 19 lives. Workers perform tasks more quickly and confidently, knowing the net is in place. The men who survive falls into the net call themselves the "Halfway-to-Hell Club."

September 1936

The roadway steel is finished.

October 21, 1936

The first man killed in the building of the bridge is Kermit Moore, who is crushed by a support beam that falls.

March 3, 1937

Workers install a new safety net.

April 15, 1937

Workers complete the deck surface. It hangs like a massive hammock between the two towers, suspended from the cables by 254 sets of vertical suspender ropes, each positioned 50 feet apart. Despite delays, the bridge has taken only four and a half months longer to build than originally planned.

Early summer, 1937

Joseph Strauss resigns from the District.

May 27, 1937

The Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrians for the first time. At 6am, 18,000 people are waiting to be the first to cross the bridge in some unique manner -- first on stilts, first backwards, and so on. San Francisco's week-long celebration is called "The Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta."

The bridge opens to the public
The Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley

The bridge opens to the public
May 28, 1937

The bridge opens to vehicles after President Franklin Roosevelt presses a telegraph key in the White House announcing the occasion to the whole world. The bridge has opened ahead of schedule and under budget. In the first hours, 1,800 cars pass over the bridge. By midnight, 32,300 vehicles and 19,350 pedestrians have paid tolls and crossed.


March 28, 1938

Strauss suffers a heart attack.

May 16, 1938

Strauss dies at the age of sixty-eight, eleven days short of the first anniversary of his magnificent bridge's opening.

May 28, 1941

Officials dedicate a monument to Joseph Strauss at a magnificent spot below the bridge toll plaza.

August 22, 1949

Charles Ellis dies at an Evanston, Illinois hospital. Whether he ever saw the completed Golden Gate Bridge prior to his death is unknown.

Mid 1950s

Judson-Pacific Murphy of South San Francisco is awarded $3.5 million to stiffen girders underneath the bridge roadway.

December 1, 1951

A howling 69-mile-per-hour windstorm blows through the Golden Gate, shaking the bridge's steel towers. The storm is so bad that the roadway starts to ripple. When one side starts pitching 11 feet higher than the other, bridge officials close the span for the first time in its 14-year history. Casual inspection the next day shows little damage.

October 1968

The first one-way toll system in the world starts on the Golden Gate Bridge. Motorists can pay a round-trip toll in one direction and cross without stopping to pay in the other direction.

Early 1970s

All suspender ropes are replaced after inspectors find corrosion near the gusset plates at the intersection of some ropes and the floor system chords.


The last of the construction bonds is retired. Bridge tolls have financed $35 million in principal and nearly $39 million in interest.

February 22, 1985

The one billionth car crosses the bridge.

August 15, 1985

Construction is finished on a new orthotropic steel plate deck.

May 24, 1987

The Golden Gate Bridge celebrates its 50th anniversary.


Following a year-long study, the Historical Review Committee of the American Society of Civil Engineers declares that Ellis, working with Moisseiff, is "the technical and theoretical brains behind the design of the bridge" and deserves to be honored.

February 16, 1994

The American Society of Civil Engineers names the Golden Gate Bridge one of the "Seven Wonders of the Modern World" along with other massive American creations: the Hoover Dam, the Interstate Highway System, the Kennedy Space Center, the Panama Canal, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the World Trade Center

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From the Empire State Buiding to the carvings on Mount Rushmore, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the Space Needle, the U.S. has dozens of impressive, important, and iconic structures. Which ones have you been to? Which has had the biggest impact?