Fact or Fiction

FICTION: The Golden Gate Bridge is named for its radiant color.

FACT: The Bridge’s official hue is not gold but International Orange. The Bridge is actually named for the Golden Gate Strait, the narrow entrance between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. The strait was named by explorer and U.S. Army officer John C. Frémont, who marveled at its beauty in 1846—two years before the discovery of gold in California. In his memoirs, he wrote that he named it Chrysopolae (Golden Gate) because of its similarity to the harbor of Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul), dubbed Chrysoceras (Golden Horn).


FICTION: The Golden Gate Bridge is painted end-to-end each year.

FACT: While painting is considered a primary maintenance task, only routine touch-ups are performed in the course of a year. The Bridge was painted when it was originally built, and in 1965, a process was begun to replace the original lead-based paint with an inorganic zinc silicate primer and acrylic emulsion topcoat. In the 1980s, this paint was replaced by a water-borne inorganic zinc primer and an acrylic topcoat. In addition to its aesthetic qualities, the paint protects the Bridge from the salt that corrodes and rusts the steel components.


FICTION: The Golden Gate Bridge was universally beloved from the beginning.

FACT: When the original design was revealed to the public in December 1922, the press derided Joseph Strauss’ symmetrical cantilever-suspension design as “ugly.” There were also those who opposed the idea of a Bridge to begin with—including ferry operators and in famed photographer Ansel Adams and members of the Sierra Club, who thought a manmade structure would detract from the natural beauty of the Golden Gate. (source: http://articles.sfgate.com/2010-04-18/news/20858555_1_urban-legends-san-francisco-urban-myth/2)


FICTION: The Golden Gate Bridge is the longest suspension bridge in the world.

FACT: The Bridge did hold this superlative title from 1937 to 1964—when the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in New York opened to bump the Golden Gate from the top spot. The Golden Gate Bridge’s 4,200-foot-long main suspension span (the distance between the towers) now ranks 9th in the world in terms of length, with the Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge of Japan topping the list at 6,529 feet. While the Golden Gate Bridge does not rank as the world’s widest, tallest, or most trafficked Bridge, it does hold claim to at least one lofty title: the most photographed span on the planet. (source: http://www.cnn.com/2011/12/02/travel/record-breaking-bridges-bt/index.html)