Did you know there’s a town in the United States that is eight miles long, and a hundred feet wide?
This town has its own fire department, police department, private telephone exchange, a bank! To top it all off, this town, eight miles long, is suspended in mid-air! This city in the sky is the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Usually, a bridge is a bridge, and that’s about the end of it, but such is not the case here. The bridge has a fleet of trucks to tow motorists in trouble. It also has its own radio station. This community is where 250 people work. A town which is deserted one minute, except for the residents, and then jammed with thousands of motorists.
You can drive across this seventy-eight million dollar giant and see only the man at the toll booth.
The other workers are all out of sight. Unless you knew there were two hundred and fifty of them scrambling around, unseen, you’d never believe they were there.
Down below in offices, there are scores of workers handling bridge charge accounts as a large as a department stores account. These accounts accommodate all the trucking firms and bus lines that use it so often. Other people are busy operating machines that count, sort, and wrap the piles of small coins coming in. They may sort and wrap thousands of coins a minute.
Close to a hundred thousand vehicles use the bridge every twenty-four hours.
Naturally, on a bridge of this size with so much traffic, emergencies are a daily routine. The bridge firemen fight an average of six fires a month. But that is just one example of the disasters that occur on the bridge. Once a Navy training plane crashed into the steel suspender ropes. Ships occasionally graze the enormous concrete foundation. I remember once returning from the Hawaiian Islands during the war on an Army B-24 bomber, and the fog was so low that we flew between the towering bridge pylons.
Occasionally automobiles knockdown lampposts. Also during the high winds, the roof has blown off a toll booth, and the cargoes of trucks have blown out.
When the bridge first opened, I happened to be in San Francisco. Sixty painters started to give the bridge a fresh, three-layer coat of paint. They figured it would take them about fifteen years to complete the job, and they were right. It did! Four hundred and sixty-five acres of steel to paint, and they finished just in time to start all over again.
One of the biggest problems is to keep the bridge the traffic moving.
One stalled car can really jam up the works. One time a man complained about the $0.25 toll and said he wouldn’t move until they let him across free. One of the bridge tow trucks carted the man and his car away. The man who didn’t want to pay a quarter wound up paying $50.00 in fines, $2.50 towing charges, and $0.50 storage.
The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most beautiful structures ever devised and constructed by the hand of man.
It was built to stand for centuries, like the pyramids, and it will. If you have never had the chance to see the ‘city in the sky,’ you should put it on your bucket list.