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What Lies Under the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco?

No trip to San Francisco is complete without cruising across the Golden Gate Bridge or snapping a picture of it. It’s a historic bridge that’s an icon for the city but also has quite a bit of mystery.

You may not know it, but something lies underneath its waters. Let’s see what it is!

What Is the Golden Gate Bridge?

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic mile-wide suspension bridge that connects San Francisco Peninsula to Marin Peninsula. It goes over the Golden Gate Strait, connecting San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. Those traveling on US Route 101 and California State Route 1 experience driving across the bridge.

The bridge is a massive 4,200 feet wide and 746 feet tall. When the bridge first opened, it was the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world. However, it has since fallen near the bottom of the world’s top 10 longest suspension bridges and hangs on as the eighth-longest suspension bridge. The bridge sits 220 feet above the surface of the water.

Woman looking out over Golden Gate Bridge
A visit to see the Golden Gate Bridge is a must when exploring California.

How Many Years Did It Take to Make the Golden Gate Bridge? 

Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge lasted 1,604 days, slightly less than four and a half years. Crews began construction on January 5, 1933, and the bridge finally opened to vehicular traffic on May 28, 1937.

Initial estimates were that constructing the bridge would take three years and $6 million. However, the timeline wasn’t the only estimate where estimates missed the mark. The final cost of the bridge was a staggering $46 million, $40 million over budget.

Pro Tip: While visiting the west coast, head out on one of these 7 Great San Francisco Bay Area Hikes.

Why Is the Golden Gate Bridge Famous?

The Golden Gate Bridge earned its fame for initially being the longest and tallest suspension bridge in the world. It’s an engineering marvel that showcases the capabilities of humans to create impressive structures under less than ideal conditions. There was nothing easy about constructing this massive bridge, which ultimately resulted in 11 lives lost.

The bridge is an icon for the city and is no stranger to being on TV, movie screens, and photographed by millions of people every year. The popular TV show Full House (based in San Francisco) spotlighted the bridge and much of the city of San Francisco in the show’s intro. The Golden Gate Bridge’s color helps it blend in with the surrounding landscapes and provides an incredible view that demands your attention.

Looking down at the water from on  the Golden Gate Bridge.
There is lots lurking below the waters underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

Did the Golden Gate Bridge Ever Fall?

On April 18, 1906, the first Golden Gate Bridge collapsed due to San Francisco experiencing a massive earthquake. The earthquake took place nearly three decades before the Richter scale was developed.

However, there are estimates that it would have been between 7.7 and 8.3 on the Richter scale. Officials blamed the collapse on deterioration from years of exposure to strong winds that swept through the area.

What Was Found Under the Golden Gate Bridge?

It’s easy to look at the Golden Gate Bridge and appreciate everything above the water. However, underneath the surface of the water is the remains of a steamboat that sank on August 22, 1890.

The wreckage is from the City of Chester steamboat that suffered a fatal blow from a ship arriving from Asia. The City of Chester sank to the bottom in six minutes and settled upright on the seafloor. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spent months researching the area, and the state of California protects the site.

Pro Tip: Going on a California road trip? Use our Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide on your adventure!

Person making picture frame with hands surrounding the Golden Gate Bridge
Stroll across California’s most famous bridge during your west coast adventure.

How Deep Is the Water Under the Golden Gate? 

The deepest waters under the Golden Gate Bridge are just over 370 feet deep. To put that height into perspective, that’s 65 feet taller than the entirety of the Statue of Liberty. That’s pretty deep, especially compared to the shallowness of San Francisco Bay. The bay waters average only 12 to 15 feet deep. Between Hayward and San Mateo, the waters average 12 inches to 36 inches deep.

Can You Walk Across the Golden Gate Bridge?

You can stroll across the bridge and have plenty of time to appreciate every inch of the 1.7-mile walk. Many tourists will walk across the bridge and take one of the “Hop-On, Hop-Off” bus tours to bring them back across the bridge. It takes approximately 35 minutes to walk each way across the bridge. However, you’ll likely want to build in some time to stop, take plenty of pictures, and enjoy the view.

Is the Golden Gate Bridge Worth Visiting? 

The Golden Gate Bridge is worth every ounce of effort you can experience. Whether you’re driving across it or enjoying it from the shore, there’s something special about the bridge. Many tourists find it breathtaking when they first lay eyes on it. Its impressive stature with the hilly San Francisco landscapes in the background is an incredible experience. You won’t regret taking the time or going out of your way to experience it.

Is a road trip to San Fransisco in your future? Tell us in the comments!

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