The magnetic appeal of San Francisco beckons many a tourist, the Golden Gate Bridge being its biggest draw. At one time termed ‘the bridge that couldn’t be built’, the Golden Gate Bridge is today amongst the seven wonders of the modern world. This 1930’s Art Deco icon is probably the most photographed bridge in the world, serving as a landmark not only for the city of San Francisco but also for the West Coast.
The 1.7-mile long span of this suspension bridge with 750-foot tall towers and sweeping lines are a sight to behold. A viewing area, a parking lot, even a tourist centre and restrooms for visitors make the Golden Gate experience a very tourist friendly one. Many a San Francisco travel guides will proudly give you a guided history tour of the bridge and surrounding area viewpoints. Traversed by thousands of tourists’ everyday, a very popular tour includes hiring a bike and cycling over the bridge. The bridge also is by far one of the best walks in the country. More often than not, a dense fog envelops the bridge, which adds to the romantic ambience.
Alternatively, the weather conditions can make the hike quite daunting; since the bridge is 220 ft above sea level and almost 3kms long, a windy day can make the bridge sway enough to take your breath away!
Construction of this architectural phenomenon took just over four years, post which it was thrown, open to traffic in mid 1937. Contrary to perception, the Golden Gate Bridge is not golden in color but a shade of rust called International Orange. This color was chosen partly because of its high visibility in the fog, which is a constant feature around the structure. The term Golden Gate in actuality refers to the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean, which is known as the Golden Gate Strait. This strait was given its name – ‘Chrysopylae’ or Golden Gate by Army Captain John Freemont in 1846. If the US Navy had been allowed to have its way, the Golden Gate Bridge would most probably have been a striped wonder – painted in black and yellow stripes to ensure visibility to passing ships!
The bridge is a tourist behemoth of such magnitude that there are a number of overlooks around the city, which serve as viewpoints. The most popular site is the South Vista Point situated at the SF end of the bridge. Then there’s the North Vista Point on the Marin County side. A panoramic view of the bridge can be had from Land’s End, the northern tip of Lincoln Park. There’s another viewpoint at Baker Beach at Presidio Park and one at Conzelman Road on the Marin County side.
The bridge offers very dreamy views in the morning, when shrouded with layers upon layers of mist, only parts of its elegant towers emerge into sight. Another magical time to view the bridge is at night, lit up in the most spectacular way, its towers gradually disappear into the darkness of the skies.