The Golden Gate Bridge Sample Essay

The Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a proof that the American dream is achievable provided one has determination, belief, and dares to dream. The Golden Gate Bridge is presented as one of America’s few iconic structures that is recognizable all over the world and the history of which is full of tales about overcoming fears and obstacles that seem to be beyond human control. The construction of the bridge was considered impossible due to the difficult terrain that surrounds the area between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. However, Joseph B. Strauss, a structural engineer, dared to dream about actualizing the idea of the bridge construction, a controversial topic at that time. The bridge is approximately 1.7 miles long and 90 feet wide with two towers rising up to 746 feet above the water surface of San Francisco Bay (Kei Fung Sameul 3). The main suspension cable is 7650 feet long and weighs 24, 500 tons. The bridge weighs 887,000 tons and reportedly carries approximately over 118,000 vehicles daily since its completion in 1937 that cost over US $ 35 million (Karwatka 10). The bridge’s iconic orange vermilion color contrasts with the sky and sea and approximately 10,000 gallons of paint are used annually to paint it.

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The determination to build the bridge was motivated by the desires of the city’s residents to connect San Francisco to Marin County. The city was surrounded by water on three sides thus making it impossible for the city to grow. San Francisco Bay separated two distinct areas, one fo which was overcrowded and the other one - unoccupied. Not many people welcomed the proposal by Strauss including the navy, local shippers, the Sierra club, the Southern Pacific ferry company, and the city’s Board of Construction Supervisors due to various reasons (Lee 2). For instance, local shippers believed that the bridge would obstruct the passage of ships through San Francisco Bay while the navy worried that the bridge would collapse in wartime and block the harbor. Interestingly, Strauss’ determination to have the bridge built provoked him to cut his fee by nearly half, incorporate rival engineers as consultants, and shelve his initial designs.

Strauss’s belief in the actualization of the idea was so strong that he guaranteed the City’s Board of Supervisors that its construction would cost less than $ 100 million allocated for it. Amazingly, the total cost of the bridge was $33.7 million. Strauss believed in the project even despite the worsening economic conditions of that period due to the Great Depression. Safety concerns were the major obstacle to the project due to the large number of workers (22) that had died while constructing the Oakland Bay Bridge across the Bay (Lee 6). In fact, engineers typically believed that in bridge projects one life was equivalent to one million dollar. Therefore, since the budget of the bridge was $ 35 million around 35 people were expected to die. However, Strauss believed in safety and only 11 people died during the construction of the bridge.

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            Joseph B. Strauss`s dare to dream saw him oversee the construction of a complicated bridge that defied all fears and beliefs about long suspension bridges. The bridge’s construction was never to be an easy task due to the prevailing winds in the San Francisco that were up to 96 km per hour. The underlying ocean floor consists of a rugged canyon that has strong ocean currents sweeping through it. In fact, anyone dreaming of constructing a bridge there had to consider the area’s vicinity to the epicenter of the San Andreas Fault (Kei Fung Sameul 6). Consequently, the design of the bridge uniquely consists of five types of structures that are atypical of most bridges. The graceful dips of the suspension cables amidst the two towers apparently carry the bridge’s weight and the cables of the bridge are flexible enough to bend up to 27 feet laterally. The bridge can withstand an earthquake of 8.3 on the Richter scale. 119 sensors have installed on the bridge to monitor its response to earthquakes (Lee 7).

            In conclusion, the Golden Gate Bridge represents the ideals of the American Dream. Joseph B. Strauss dared to dream and he was determined to construct a type of bridge that had never been constructed in the USA. The Golden Gate Bridge was built despite various obstacles such as costs, opposition, terrain, and proximity to the epicenter of an earthquake. The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge defied all odds just as the American Dream does.

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