Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Man, like the bridge, was designed to carry the load of the moment, not the combined weight of a year at once. —William A. Ward

Here is a video presentation of a film that Bethlehem Steel made for its employees after the Golden Gate Bridge opened in 1937. The images of the construction of the bridge are breath-taking and the engineering/design is outstanding. The logistics of manufacturing the components and the transportation/delivery on site boggles my mind.

As you watch this film, think about the following facts:

  • 51 months from start to finish to build the bridge.
  • 51 months to manufacture & ship steel thru the Panama Canal, store the parts across San Francisco Bay in Alemeda, and then get them onsite by ship, in order and on time [Note: the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge was also under construction at this time].
  • 51 months using the technology of the day: paper, pencils, slide rules and adding machines (no fax machines, FedEx, email or cellphones).

During the time it took to build the GGB, the infrastructure to use it was also built:

  • In Marin County it was necessary to build the Alexander Lateral and the Waldo Tunnel, thus allowing access to Sausalito from the South, and Highway 101 North, which runs through Northern California’s farms, vineyards and Redwood forests.
  • In San Francisco it was necessary to build Doyle Drive, the Funston Approach and the Funston Tunnel. Today these are known respectively as: the Presidio Parkway, Highway 1- Veteran’s Blvd, and the MacArthur Tunnel.

Those guys were amazing—from the engineers to the financiers to the workers who put it together. I am humbled every day I go to work.

  8 comments for “Inquiring Minds Want to Know

  1. Anonymous
    December 11, 2013 at 3:30 AM



    November 12, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    I enjoyed that Allan. My mother was born on Jan 5th and now resides in Pottstown, PA. Yes you have a great job : )


    • November 13, 2013 at 5:45 AM

      Thanks, I’m going to miss it when I retire next year.


        November 13, 2013 at 8:00 AM

        You will find something else!!


      • November 13, 2013 at 2:16 PM

        I am thinking about fly-on-the-wall street photography.


        November 13, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        That sounds awesome ;))))


  3. November 6, 2013 at 2:55 PM

    COOL video, Allan! I just love watching landmarks being built. What’s most interesting about your essay, though, and something that I never realized, is that they also had to build all of the roadways and tunnels leading to the bridge on both the SF and Marin sides. Question: if it only took 51 months to build the Golden Gate Bridge, why did it take so long to build the new Bay Bridge?


    • November 6, 2013 at 2:58 PM

      They got rid of pencils, paper and slide rules and picked up computers, cellphones and fax machines (this is just my observation…).

      It’s nice to hear from you, Stephen. We live in a wondrous place, don’t we?



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