golden gate bridge

San Francisco (California / Part 1)

Being the base for the gold rush in the 1840’s, this fine city quickly became an important commercial, naval, and financial hub in the American West. Later on, San Francisco became popular in the 1960’s for the hippie movement. Now the city and surrounding area is synonymous with Silicon Valley.

san fransciso pier 

One of the famous icons of the area is the Golden Gate Bridge. It is a suspension bridge connecting the San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean. Billed as the greatest bridge ever built, construction started in January of 1933 and completed in April of 1937. Though the idea of a bridge in this location was nothing new, it is the ambitious engineer Joseph Strauss who became the chief engineer in charge of overall design and construction of this project. This was contingent on accepting input from several consulting project experts and altering the plans as needed. The final suspension design was conceived by Leon Moisseiff, who was the engineer of the Manhattan Bridge in New York City.


Across the waterway, on an island by itself, we have the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. Bought by the U.S. government in 1849, it housed the first lighthouse on the coast of California. The island was designated a residence for military offenders starting in 1861. Then designated as the Pacific Branch of the United States Military Prison 1907. From 1924 to 1963, it served as a federal prison for some of the most dangerous civilan prisoners. Eventually abandoned in 1963 due to the necessity of fresh water transportation to the island and removal of waste. It currently open to the public for tours.


A couple more notable attractions are Pier 39 and the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. While there are many piers in the area, Pier 39 is home to plenty of shopping, dining, the Aquarium of the Bay, and other attractions. While the San Fransico – Oakland Bay Bridge (known locally as the Bay Bridge) was completed in 1936, just six months before the Golden Gate Bridge. The eastern section was rebuilt and completed in 2013 after being damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Today, it sees daily traffic to the tune of 260,000 vehicles and has one of the longest spans in the US.


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