That time the Golden Gate Bridge sagged 7 feet

That time the Golden Gate Bridge sagged 7 feet

The Golden Gate Bridge is an American Icon. Stretching 1.7 miles long, the San Francisco-based suspension bridge has appeared in countless films – Godzilla, Pacific Rim, and even DreamWorks’ Monsters vs. Aliens. 

If these movies are anything to go off one thing’s for sure, if you’re a would-be, Earth-destroying, giant monster from outer space you simply must make a stop to destroy the Golden Gate Bridge. Possibly on your way to the Eiffel Tower or Sydney Opera House. 

However, despite its limited luck on the silver screen, the Golden Gate Bridge has endured the years. 

But it hasn’t always been plain sailing. During the bridge’s construction in 1935, terrified workers clung to the top as an earthquake caused the bridge to sway up to 16 feet. 

You might be surprised to learn, given the period in which the bridge was built, that there were some safety precautions in place.

A giant safety net had been deployed to catch anyone who accidentally slipped. The net saved the lives of 19 workers during the construction of the suspension bridge. 

In an iconic orange, the US Navy had originally demanded the bridge be painted in blue and yellow to increase its visibility. 

However, when the steel arrived in the now-familiar orange the architect decided it looked better as it was. Sorry, US Navy, your concerns over visibility and safety will have to wait! 

But what about the bridge sagging? Well, I won’t keep you in “suspense” any longer. 

In 1987 the 50th anniversary of the bridge was celebrated. To mark the momentous occasion, San Francisco organised a bridge walk. 

Thousands showed up to take part in the walk with an estimated 300,000 pedestrians marching across in celebration. 

Then, what seemed like a big success suddenly turned into a big concern for safety. 

With so many people on the bridge, the structure began to sag, dipping in the middle so much that the bridge's iconic curve flattened out.

As well as the bridge beginning to dip, organisers were concerned about people becoming trapped in the middle. If there had been an emergency there would have been no escape.

Organisers decided to cancel the event, preventing a further 600,000 pedestrians from marching onto the bridge and perhaps stopping what could have been a very big catastrophe. 

Luckily, nobody was hurt and engineers said the bridge had never been under threat of collapse, with the weight exerted on it only being a small fraction of the load it had been designed to hold. 

Even if the weight had been too much, suspension bridges are designed to dip in the middle rather than completely collapse. 

I wonder what they have planned for this surprisingly bendy bridge’s upcoming 90th anniversary? Whatever it is, I think I might “dip” out of that one.

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