Top Ten Public Works Projects of the Century

Editor's Note: APWA developed the Top Ten Public Works Projects of the Century Program to honor the ten most outstanding public works projects of the 20th Century that significantly affected and improved the quality of life in the United States or Canada. Our goal was to generate awareness of the positive contributions public works has made as well as to build appreciation for public works and its contributions to North America.

The APWA Reporter will highlight each of the outstanding projects through the October 2001 issue. In this issue, the Golden Gate Bridge is featured.

Golden Gate Bridge

Managing Agency: Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District
Nominated by: Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District

The Golden Gate Bridge is the best known, most internationally recognized, and most frequently visited suspension bridge in the world. Public recognition and the popularity of the Golden Gate Bridge stem from its ultimate beauty. It stands at the entrance to San Francisco Bay as an icon of American ingenuity and one of the nation's most conspicuous masterpieces of progressive 1930s Art Deco and Streamline Modernist architecture. Using the most advanced engineering technologies of the day, set in its dramatic coastal backdrop, the Golden Gate Bridge is an environmental sculpture, recognized for its blending of the natural and man-made environment.

Completed in May 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge is most notably the best example of incorporating architectural styling to state-of-the-art engineering capabilities. It applied state-of-the-art theories and techniques to extreme degrees of length and heights in a challenging natural environment. Its successful architectural appearance cannot be separated from the engineering work that made the architect's work possible and greatly directed the aesthetic alternatives.

From its very inception, the Golden Gate Bridge received national attention as the first bridge that would be built across the entrance of a major United States harbor. This entrance, the Golden Gate Strait, and the surrounding lands, was well known not only for its importance as the "gate" to the largest inlet harbor system in the United States' West Coast, but also for its exceptional natural, scenic, and historical values. A vital transportation corridor, the Golden Gate Bridge serves as the last link to be constructed in a national highway system that connects Mexico to Canada.

The Golden Gate Bridge began as "the Bridge that couldn't be built' and faced a number of daunting obstacles, both natural and man-made, that heighten the achievement embodied in the finished project. Today, it stands not only as a major transportation artery and an engine of economic vitality, but as a living symbol of what can be achieved against the odds.