On This Day in 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge Opened

OFF / AFP / Getty Images
OFF / AFP / Getty Images / OFF / AFP / Getty Images

On May 27, 1937, San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge opened to pedestrian traffic. The next day, vehicles were allowed to cross. The bridge took five years to build, and it was the world's longest single-span suspension bridge at the time (it was surpassed in 1964 by New York City's Verrazano-Narrows Bridge). On that first day, an estimated 200,000 bridge walkers paid 25 cents each to check out the incredible project.

The bridge was conceived decades earlier as a means to cross the Golden Gate Strait. Until it was built, the only practical way to get from San Francisco to Marin County was by ferry, which slowed travel. Its construction began during the Great Depression, providing much-needed construction jobs for locals.

On opening day, the throng of bridge walkers created a spectacle. In the silent home movie below, you can walk with those pedestrians. (Check out all the sweet hats!) Behold:

The next day, President Roosevelt pressed a golden button in Washington, D.C., officially opening the bridge for automobile traffic. It was a telegraph button, and the press was timed to allow traffic to start at noon Pacific time.

For more on the bridge, check out this vintage documentary:

We also have 20 Awesome Facts About the Golden Gate Bridge—including an explanation of its famous "international orange" paint!