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Spanning the Golden Gate

Jeffrey Syken

It was the bridge that couldn’t and shouldn’t be built. The Golden Gate Strait was too wide and treacherous, the weather and fog conditions were abominable and even if you could build a bridge, the next big earthquake would just bring it all crashing down. Then there was the cost, the time and effort it would take to build and the possibility of wartime sabotage of the bridge resulting in entrapment of the entire U.S. Pacific Fleet at their anchorage in San Francisco Bay. The odds were against it from the start, but fortune favors the bold so it was that a bold man with a bold plan to build a bridge from San Francisco to Marin County that was both cost-effective and enduring took up the mighty task; his name was Joseph B. Strauss. Ultimately, he would make many enemies and take credit where credit was not due in his twenty year odyssey, but without his tenacity of purpose, determination and strong leadership, it is likely the bridge would never have been built. He truly was “the man who built the bridge.” The thousands of people who designed and built the bridge are no more, but the great bridge they created stands as a monument to human ingenuity and achievement. However, without the on-going care and maintenance of the generations that followed the bridge would succumb to the natural and man-made forces working against it. The bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world for twenty-seven years and the first to be built under “open ocean conditions.” Those who said the bridge would mar the beauty of the Golden Gate were silenced when the beautiful art-deco towers rose to frame the entrance to San Francisco and its inland Sea. The Golden Gate Bridge remains the most famous, photographed and recognizable bridge in all the world.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of course materials.

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