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Golden Gate Bridge History Essay

The First proposal for the Golden Gate Bridge came from James Wilkins, who at the time was an engineering student. The cost of James Wilkins Bridge was unrealistic at the time which was 100million dollars, but none the less it set the bar for other bridge engineers to try to work out a cheaper solution. During this time a young Joseph Strauss had graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in Business and Economics. Joseph was an avid student at his school and was the class president and poet for his class. Joseph’s interests with engineering and bridge design some might say happened by chance, in that, one day Joseph once tried out for his school’s football team but got injured and taken to the infirmary. During his stay, he gazed outside the window at the Cincinnati-Covington Bridge. Little did anyone know, Joseph was on his way to becoming a leader in his society and a hero amongst most. Joseph spent some time working at an office for an engineering firm which designed bridges, and after a preposition to his firm was rejected, he though to start his own firm and take his idea with him. Joseph went on to create the Strauss Bascule bridge company of Chicago where he amped up the modern day bascule bridge (draw bridge) with his designs and ideas.

At the Strauss Bascule bridge company of Chicago, Josephs worked on the Burnside Bridge in Portland in the year 1926, the Lewis and Clark Bridge in 1930, the Cherry street Strauss and Trunnion Bridge, the Washington Street Bridge, the Hoquiam Bridge, the Skansen Bridge and finally worked as the chief engineer on the golden Gate Bridge. All of this was done without a proper degree in engineering. Joseph first tackled the idea of designing the Golden Gate Bridge with a plan of having two double cantilever spans linked by a central suspension segment. This design was rejected and later on a fellow engineer working on the project under Joseph by the name of Leon Moisseiff came up with the Final Design for the Golden Gate Bridge. Joseph was a very conservative man and left plenty of room for error throughout the entire process of designing and building the Golden Gate Bridge. Joseph insisted that a net be placed under the work space to catch workers who accidentally fell off. This net that he implemented saved a total of 19 lives and he was commemorated more than ever for it. Joseph received a statue at the end of the Golden Gate Bridge on the San Francisco side.

Leon Moisseiff received the Franklin Institute’s Louis E Levy Medal in 1933 and was a leading suspension bridge designer within America. Leon graduated from Colombia University with a degree in civil engineering in 1895. Leon had a number of bridges which he has worked with but to name a few of most notable were the Manhattan Bridge and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in Delaware. Leon Moisseif was best known for his work with the deflection theory which simply stated that the longer a bridge spans the more room it has to wiggle and move. He applied this principle on the Golden Gate Bridge as it was to span a length no bridge has spanned before at the time. Moisseiff was mainly in charge of the calculation of force revolving the wind the Bridge would have to withstand and one of his co-workers, Charles Ellis was a big believer in Moisseiff and his “Deflection Theory”.

Charles Ellis was first appointed onto the Golden Gate Bridge project by Strauss himself. Strauss recognized him as a well renowned scholar of mathematics but as ironic as it is, Ellis like Joseph Strauss never received a degree in Engineer either, but one thing Ellis had on Joseph was a certificate in the field. Charles had fallen in love with the engineering and went on to write a book named “essentials of theory in framed structure” which became a mandatory text for Harvard and Yale engineer students. Charles graduated from the University of Wesleyan with a degree in Greek and Mathematics. Charles worked as a professor of engineering at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois for some time.

Ellis was a key part in the construction and design of the Golden Gate Bridge but Joseph made an alarming move which was controversial. Joseph accused Ellis of wasting time and money on the project and ordered Charles Ellis to take a vacation from work, and near the end of it Ellis received a letter from Joseph telling him not to come back to the job. Ellis was devastated and was still much attached to the project. After he had been released he began teaching at the University of Perdue and on top of his teachings kept working at problems and overlooking the designs for the Golden Gate Bridge dedicating around 70 hours a week. He found several errors which raised some eyes brows and in no time sent a letter to Moissieff. Charles Ellis was given almost no credit for his 3 years dedicated to working on the Golden Gate Bridge. His name was not mentioned on the list of builders but until recently was given a plaque acknowledging his participation in the bridge design.

How the Golden Gate Bridge affected the local community.

The Golden Gate Bridge is a historic achievement of great magnitude in the San Francisco and California region. It has created many jobs for the locals as positions were promised to be favouring them and also had brought attention to the area from all around the world. A total of 10 construction companies were called into the building of the bridge and materials from all over the world were brought in and in tremendous amounts, 83 000 tons of steel and 389 000 cubic yards of concrete.


The Golden Gate Bridge is a Remarkable piece of engineering. It has come a long way over its 4-5 years of construction and not to mention all that was needed to set its plan in motion. It has faced many obstacles to get to where it is at today, being one of Americas most recognizable attractions. The Golden Gate Bridge pushed the limits of its time, being the longest, highest bridge of its time really opened the eyes of many people in what exactly careful engineering can accomplish. It has had lots of passionate dedicated workers behind it since day one and along the road had its ups and down but in the end turned out to be one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments.

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