Golden Gate Bridge Plaza

Visitors walking around the plaza with the Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
Visitors exploring the bridge plaza.

Quick Facts

Food/Drink - Cafeteria, Information, Restroom, Scenic View/Photo Spot

The plaza is the starting point for all your bridge-related adventures. From here, you can learn about the history of the bridge and its impact on the Bay Area with the help of interactive installations and models, including a cross-section of the bridge's main suspension cable. There is limited paid parking at the plaza, and we highly recommend that you take public transit.

Bridge Across the Bay

Crossing the bridge is a popular activity for tourists and locals alike. People from around the bay area flock every day to bike or walk across the span. Depending on weather, the walk across the bridge can afford stunning views of the city and the Marin Headlands, but don't be surprised if you get caught in the Fog Dome!

The Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center is your starting point for walking across the Golden Gate Bridge or planning an excursion in nearby parklands. You can ask a ranger about places to visit and pick up bridge-related souvenirs. Trails from the plaza go in several directions, even leading to Fort Point below. These trails have recently been improved for accessibility and the accommodation of cyclists.

Bridge Trivia

The following are some fun bridge facts you can use to impress friends at your next bridge-related get together...

  • A bridge spanning the Golden Gate Strait was first proposed in 1872 by railroad tycoon Charles Crocker. At the time, many people thought a bridge across the strait couldn't be built. The idea wasn't brought up again until 1919, 47 years later, when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors instructed the city engineer to do a study to evaluate the feasibility of such an undertaking.
  • The bridge took more than four years to build, from January 5th, 1933, until its official opening to vehicular traffic on May 28th, 1937.
  • When it was first being built, the bridge had several enemies. Among them, the Southern Pacific Railroad, who had a controlling interest in the ferry that conveyed commuters from Marin County to the city. Legendary landscape photographer Ansel Adams, along with the Sierra Club, also opposed the bridge, fearing it would ruin the view.
  • At its opening in 1937, the bridge weighed 894,500 tons. After modifications in 1986, the bridge slimmed down to a lean 887,000 tons. The towers are 746 feet tall, and each have about 600,000 rivets. End to end, including abutments, the bridge is 1.7 miles long. The span across the strait is 1.2 miles long.
  • The main suspension cables, which run the length of the bridge passing over the tops of the towers, are made of galvanized carbon steel wire. Each cable is 36 3/8 inches in diameter and 7,650 feet long. The total length of galvanized steel wire used in both cables combined is 80,000 miles, for a combined weight of 24,500 tons.
  • The bridge was built to move. At midspan, the bridge can lower as much as 10.8 feet, or rise as much as 5.8 feet. Side to side, the bridge can sway up to 27.7 feet.
  • The bridge's unique color, "International Orange," was carefully selected by consulting architect Irving Morrow, who picked it to complement the bridge's environs, highlight its immensity and make it more visible in fog.
  • The Civil War-era Fort Point was slated for demolition in 1933 to make way for the bridge's construction, but Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss put a halt to the plan, citing the fort's fine masonry as well as its historical significance among the reasons it should remain. The bridge was redesigned with an arch at the south end to accommodate the fort.
  • In 1967, San Francisco topless star Yvonne D'Angers, aka the Persian Lamb, protested threats of her own deportation by chaining herself to the bridge.
  • In 2004, a young deer decided to join the commute, bounding across the bridge in a FasTrak lane before exiting on 19th Avenue and disappearing into the Presidio.
  • In late August 2005, a 6-foot tall ostrich escaped from a cargo van just in time to jam the evening commute north and south across the bridge.

Parking is Limited

Paid parking is extremely limited at the plaza. It's highly recommended that you take public transit to the plaza. Options from San Francisco include the following:

  • Downtown, at Main and Folsom or along Mission Street. (Routes 10, 70, and 101)
  • Union Square, at 5th Street and Mission. (Routes 10, 70, and 101)
  • Civic Center, at 7th Street and Market or McAllister and Polk Street. (Routes 10, 70, 92, 93, and 101)
  • Along Fisherman's Wharf. (Routes 2, 4, 8, 18, 24, 27, 38, 44, 54, 56, 58, 72, 74, and 76)
  • You can also take the Presidio Go shuttles from the Presidio.

Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Presidio of San Francisco

Last updated: November 3, 2023