Golden Gate Bridge Suspender Rope
Golden Gate Bridge Suspender Rope
On May 27th, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public, fulfilling a decades-long dream of "Bridging the Gate.” Spanning 1,280 meters (4,200 ft), the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world.
This specimen is a fragment of one of the original 250 pairs of vertical suspender ropes attached to the main cables. Small and large sizes of this cable are available and both ship in a classic display case along with an informational card which serves as certificate of authenticity.
📸 The Small and Large sized specimens
A FEAT OF ENGINEERING
On May 27th, 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public, fulfilling the decades-long dream of "Bridging the Gate". Today, the bridge remains a marvel of engineering, representing the will to achieve what others said could not be done.
This bridge spans the Golden Gate straight, over 4,200 feet of steel with 27,572 galvanized wires bound together for support. These cable wires are made up of a bundle of super strong, galvanized steel wire strands. In total, it's estimated there are over 80,000 miles of wire on the bridge, maintaining an incredible integrity against the winds of the San Francisco Bay.
📸 A CROSS SECTION OF SUSPENDER ROPE
A CABLE FROM THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
The Golden Gate bridge consists of two types of metal ropes, the main support cables which move from tower to tower and the vertical suspenders that bind the bridge itself to main cables. While the main support cables can never be removed, the vertical suspenders are sometimes replaced for repair.
This specimen is one of the Golden Gate Bridge's original 250 vertical suspender ropes which was replaced in the mid-70s. The process took four years and was a major feat of engineering. The state of California sold some of this material to help pay for the repairs.
For over 30 years, this piece was a crucial part of the architecture of the bridge and San Francisco itself.
There are two sizes available, Small and Large. Both sizes ship inside our classic, glass-topped riker cases. The cases measure 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included. The smaller specimen is also enclosed in an acrylic specimen jar.
"At last, the mighty task is done." ~ Joseph B. Strauss
MORE ABOUT THE GOLDEN GATE
The story of the Golden Gate Bridge
From the comfort of the present day the Golden Gate Bridge seems like an inevitability — as much a part of San Francisco’s geography as the bay it crosses. It was not always this way. In fact, building the Golden Gate Bridge was a herculean task, contending with the unprecedented difficulties of constructing over a strait that combined strong currents, high fog, and even seismic activity. That's not even to mention the dense forest of political red tape that had to be navigated through in order to complete the landmark.
This bridge spans the Golden Gate straight, over 4,200 feet of steel with 27,572 galvanized wires bound together for support. The marvel of engineering was the product of two men’s visions: structural engineer Joseph Strauss, famous for revolutionizing moveable bascule bridges, and City Engineer Michael O'Shaughnessy who rebuilt San Francisco in the wake of the 1906 earthquake.
📸 O'Shaughnessy, 1920.
Meeting of the Minds
O'Shaughnessy likely first met Strauss in 1915, at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. Strauss had fashioned some of his elevating bridge technology into an aeroscope amusement ride, a simple entertainment but one that showcased his engineering spirit.
Schooled at the University of Cincinnati, Strauss studied engineering but never obtained a proper degree or license in the field. Nevertheless, his projects speak for themselves. He revolutionized the bascule bridge design with a new pinion gear system that cut down on counterweight needed for the bridges to function. How and when exactly the two men met is unknown, but we do know they began collaborating soon after the exposition on the Peter R. Maloney Bridge.
📸 Strauss' commemorative statue today.
For all his innovation, Strauss’s style was bluntly functional, reflected in the squat and ugly Maloney bridge. When O'Shaughnessy posed the challenge of a bridge spanning the mile-long Golden Gate strait, Strauss knew an innovative design would be needed for the project. The challenges were many.
The Golden Gate strait is a truly unique geological structure, carved by the eroding force of seven different rivers that deposit directly into the Pacific’s current. At its center, this strait is 335 deep and above the water one has to contend with billowing winds off the ocean. This was an architectural conundrum, requiring a bridge strong enough to be mounted in the bay properly, while flexible enough to deal with the wind, while situated near a major fault line.
📸 The bridge under construction.
Strauss’s idea was the marriage of two different bridge styles: suspension (supported by cables) and cantilever (supported by triangles of metal bars), but he eventually acquiesced to a simpler cable design. Beyond the bridge design itself, it was Strauss who was the main voice for the project, traveling up and down Northern California, lobbying for the project. It would take over a decade to garner enough support for the project, with concerns coming from the federal government, the Navy, and the owners of ferries between San Francisco and Marin County.
Though he was no gifted orator, (he was described by a Marin County mayor as “the world’s worst speaker") with the boldness of his ideas, along with America’s nascent car culture and the vast economic growth to be had, Strauss won over the support he needed. He became the public face of the bridge project, driving a wedge between him and O'Shaughnessy who had first begun the project.
After the unending headache of winning local, federal, and military approval, design of the bridge continued apace. Strauss, for all his innovation, was greatly aided by the men working under him, chief among them Charles Alton Ellis. It was Ellis who did much of the suspension designs, a field Strauss was not adept in, but Strauss was as much a cheerleader for himself as the actual project and took credit for the final design. The two men had a difficult falling out during the early stages of construction, which led to Ellis' expulsion from the project. The State of California recognized his contribution in 2007.
Strauss's health and marriage were beginning to fail, and the slow process of designing and campaigning for the bridge assured Strauss that this would be his final project. As a student, he had written his senior thesis on a project bridging the Bering Strait between Russia and Alaska. With the Golden Gate, he had his last chance for a major project.
Construction began on January 5, 1933, 18 years after Strauss first met O'Shaughnessy. It continued until the bridge's opening in 1937, when it became the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time. While he exaggerated his role in its design, Strauss was masterful at overseeing the Golden Gate’s construction, delivering it just five months beyond the promised date and $1.3M under budget, for a total cost of 35 million, over half a billion today.
Less than a year after the Golden Gate Bridge opened to the public, Strauss died of a massive stroke while convalescing in Arizona. O'Shaughnessy stayed on as city engineer until 1932, until he began work on San Francisco's Public Utilities Commission to directly oversee Hetch Hetchy. He died of a heart attack two years later, both he and Strauss having labored for years to build the Golden Gate, but only briefly living to see the completed project. Today, the bridge connects San Francisco to the rest of California, one of the most famous architectural feats in the world that thousands of people cross every day.
Front of the Specimen Card
Back of the Specimen Card
Golden Gate: The Life and Times of America’s Greatest Bridge. Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2010.
Strauss, Joseph Baermann, and Clifford E. Paine. The Golden Gate bridge: Report of the chief engineer to the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District, California, September, 1937. Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, 1938. Starr, Kevin.
Van der Zee, John. The Gate : the True Story of the Design and Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge / John van Der Zee. Simon and Schuster, 1986.