FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show The Opening Of The Golden Gate Bridge In 1937?
An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937.
“The Golden Gate Bridge opening to the public for the first time back in 1937, and yes, it almost collapsed,” reads the caption.
The image actually shows a large crowd at the bridge’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1987.
The Golden Gate Bridge, a 1.7-mile long suspension bridge connecting San Francisco to neighboring Marin County, was constructed over a period of roughly four years in the 1930s. It opened to foot traffic on May 27, 1937, sometimes referred to as Pedestrian Day, and to vehicular traffic the following day, according to the Golden Gate Bridge website.
A reverse image search revealed that this image does not depict the public opening of the Golden Gate Bridge on Pedestrian Day. Taken by photographer Deanne Fitzmaurice for the San Francisco Chronicle, the picture actually shows a large crowd at the celebration of the bridge’s 50th anniversary in 1987, according to its caption. (RELATED: Does This Image Show Members Of Congress Playing Solitaire While In Session?)
“The bridge was closed to automobile traffic for the celebration on May 1987, and nearly one million people showed up for the bridge crossing,” reads the caption. “Poor crowd control led to 300,000 people on the span at once and the bridge actually flattened out in the middle under their weight.”
During the 50th anniversary celebrations, the bridge did indeed temporarily flattened in the middle, according to The New York Times. However, it did not cause permanent damage nor were there any serious concerns from engineers that the bridge would collapse under the crowd’s weight, according to Mercury News.
“It was probably the biggest load the bridge had ever seen,” Mark Ketchum, a San Francisco bridge engineer, told Mercury News in 2012. “But it did not exceed the design load capacity of the bridge.”