Tuesday Outlook; Video Of Golden Gate Bridge Grand Opening
May 27, 2008

An upper level low that produced some big old t’storms Monday night in Oklahoma and Kansas will rotate through the flow to the northeast…that is until it runs into a frontal boundary sliding our way.  As the boundary slips through here in the afternoon, the upper disturbance will slide eastward along it and bring us a chance for scattered showers and t’storms.  But, like it was on Monday, the best chance for strong storms will be to the south…more specifically to the southwest. Clouds will stick around much of Wednesday then we get sunshine for Thursday and warm and humid conditions on Friday and Saturday with a frontal boundary late Saturday that may produce some t’storms.  While it is many days away and far from anything close to a certainty, I would say that at this point the prospects for anything worthwhile probably look better for late Saturday than for Tuesday afternoon.  Nevertheless, we’ll watch it.

On This Date In History: The Golden Gate Bridge opened on this date in 1937, six months after the Oakland Bay Bridge.  When it did the San Francisco Chronicle referred to it as a “35 million dollar steel harp. ” Today, 35 million dollars might get you about one stran of steel cable….or a little more of a year from Alex Rodriguez to play baseball.  Estimates in today’s dollars would be approaching 2 billion dollars.  But, in those days $35 million it was a lot of money.   And remember, it was valuable to hundreds of men who needed jobs during the Great Depression.  The steel from the bridge was forged in plants in New Jersey, Maryland and Pennsylvania and was shipped in pieces from Philadelphia, through the Panama Canal, to San Francisco.  In order to maintain efficiency, they timed the shipments with the progress on the bridge so when a section came, it went straight from the ship to the workers on the bridge. At the time, it was the longest single span suspension bridge in the world at 4200 feet and held the title until 1964.  There is no record of how many men worked on the bridge but it is known that eleven men perished during it’s construction with ten falling to their deaths in one incident on February 17, 1937 in which a scaffolding fell and broke through the safety net.  That safety net was credited with saving the lives of 19 men, who all became part of the “Half-way to Hell Club.”  I don’t think that’s a club I’d like to join.

The E.D. Bullard Company was founded in San Francisco in 1898 as a company that made stuff for miners.  Bullard’s son returned from WWI and had an idea from the helmet he wore in the army.  In 1919 he used a canvas hat and put glue and black paint on it with a suspension system to make a “hard boiled hat.” They provided the hard-hats for the workers. I think the folks at the Hoover Dam also take credit for the hard hat when they dipped a soft had in tar and let it harden.  Anyway, the company is still in operation and makes products for construction and public safety from the new company home of Cynthiana, KY.

Now, the bridge didn’t open to traffic until May 28, 1937.  On this date in 1937, they opened it to pedestrians on Pedestrian Day.  Some 200,000 people paid a toll of 25 cents to walk the bridge. The following day, President Franklin Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in Washington DC that opened the bridge to automobile traffic.

Here is a link to video of the opening day…though you have to wait until the end of the over 4 minutes of footage to see the people walking across…most of it is car traffic but it’s kinda neat seeing the vintage automobiles and how the San Francisco skyline has changed. For some reason it says “1936”…they got the year wrong!

Grand Opening of the Golden Gate Bridge Video