On this day in history, May 27, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge, ‘noblest structure of steel,’ opens to public

A feat of modern engineering during the Great Depression, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public on May 27, 1937, on this day in history.

“The greatest task that has challenged the genius, courage and will of mankind has been accomplished,” wrote J. Lawrence Toole in the official commemorative program of the bridge’s opening.

“After almost a century of dreaming, decades of talks and five years of heroic labor, here stands the most sublime steel structure on earth, the bridge,” he said. .

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The Golden Gate Bridge Fiesta, a week-long series of events celebrating the bridge, began at 6 a.m. on May 27, according to the Souvenirs Program.

San Francisco Mayor Angelo Joseph Rossi’s welcome message said, “The citizens of San Francisco and the people of the Redwood Empire have eagerly anticipated the day when the mighty Golden Gate Bridge would open to world traffic.” Stated. program.

Pedestrians are depicted walking across the Golden Gate Bridge on its opening day, May 27, 1937. (Getty Images)

“May this bridge become a bond and bring us together in a bond of brotherhood,” he said, also thanking those who participated in the city “who funded this unique structure.”

Although the bridge is primarily used to transport automobiles from San Francisco over the Golden Gate to Marin County, it was closed to pedestrians on its first day of official opening.

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An estimated 18,000 people were waiting to cross the bridge before it opened, according to the website of the Golden Gate Bridge Expressway and Transportation District.

The numbers did not abate as the days went on. It is estimated that 15,000 people crossed the Golden Gate Bridge every hour on opening day, for a total of about 200,000.

Full pink moon over San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge in 2023. This iconic bridge was opened to the public on this day in his 1937 history. (Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

On the day it opened, a 25-cent toll per pedestrian (equivalent to about $5.30 in 2023) was charged to cross the bridge, and a “road has been set up” to feed hungry pedestrians. There were dozens of hot dog stands lined up,” the site said.

By 2023, walking across the Golden Gate Bridge will be free.

Still, cars pay a $9.40 toll to enter San Francisco, according to the Golden Gate Bridge website.

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The website states that the Golden Gate Bridge is 2.7 miles from abutment to abutment, with a span of 4,200 feet between the two towers.

At the time of its opening, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest single span in the world, which Toole called “the final result of an engineering achievement that cannot be matched or compared” in the Souvenir Program. .

View of the Golden Gate Bridge from above

The Golden Gate Bridge opened to traffic on this historic day, May 25, 1937. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)

“To every stranger who sees it for the first time, the marvel of its size, its beauty and grace will forever be remembered,” writes Tour.

“They will be amazed by the story told. The story and charm of the Golden Gate Bridge will be passed on for generations by all who have been enchanted by it.”

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In addition to pedestrians crossing the bridge on foot for the first time, May 27 marked several firsts in the bridge’s history.

golden gate bridge

The span between the two towers of the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest in the world when it opened on May 27, 1937. The Akashi Kaikyo Bridge in Japan currently holds that title. (Getty Images)

A man named Florentine Callegeri returned on stilts across the bridge.

And according to the Golden Gate Bridge website, the two sisters also roller skated across the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time.


Eleven-year-old Anna Marie Anderson is the first child to be found after disappearing on the Golden Gate Bridge, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

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