SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – It’s a question a lot of people gazing through the fog upon the almost one million tons of steel we call the Golden Gate Bridge have — why is the bridge reddish and not golden, if gold is in the name?
The answer is actually relatively straightforward.
The bridge, which was constructed between 1933 and 1937, was named for the Golden Gate: the 1.6 mile strait between the San Francisco and Marin peninsulas that connects the Bay with the Pacific Ocean.
The Golden Gate itself was named by John C. Frémont, who was a military governor of California during the Mexican-American war, and subsequently was a United States Senator. (Incidentally, Frémont was the first Republican candidate for President of the United States, in 1856.)
Frémont wrote of the strait: “To this Gate I gave the name of ‘Chrysopylae’, or ‘Golden Gate’; for the same reasons that the harbor of Byzantium was called Chrysoceras, or Golden Horn.”
The Golden Horn is the primary inlet of the Bosphorus strait, which is the boundary between Europe and Asia. Istanbul, Turkey’s largest city sits on either side of that strait; before it was called Constantinople after the Roman Emperor Constantine (who moved the capital of the empire to there from Rome in AD 324, shortly after the legalization of Christianity), modern day Istanbul was called Byzantium.
Before it was called the Golden Gate, the strait had been named Boca del Puerto de San Francisco (in English, mouth of the port of San Francisco). The first European ship known to pass through it was the Spanish ship the San Carlos, captained by Juan Manuel de Ayala y Aranza. The ships is believed to have docked at Angel Island, where a cove is named for Ayala.
It is believed it took so long for Spanish explorers to discover the strait because of the high amount of fog in the area year-round.
The Golden Gate Bridge was, at the time of its construction, the world’s largest suspension bridge, and is still today the second largest in the United States after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City.
The color of the bridge is International Orange; the U.S. Navy had suggested the bridge be painted black and yellow, like a bumblebee, to help with visibility.