The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the San Francisco Bay, connecting San Francisco with Marin County. The bridge is a special color of orange and not actually gold. The name Golden Gate refers to the area where the Bay opens up to the Pacific Ocean.

Photograph by David Boyer

Download this file

    1. Read the Fast Facts first!

      The Golden Gate Bridge connects two landmasses: the San Francisco Peninsula and the Marin Headlands. What landmass is this worker looking at?

      He's looking at the Marin Headlands. The Marin Headlands are a natural landscape. The San Francisco Peninsula is a big city, with skyscrapers, buildings, and roads.

    2. The Golden Gate Bridge is painted "International Orange." This bright color is a good choice, because it helps ships see the bridge, even in bad weather. What colors would be bad choices for the bridge?

      Grey, white, or black would blend in to the fog or bad weather. Dark blues and greens would blend into the landscape of the San Francisco Bay.

    3. How long did it take for painters to remove the lead-based paint on the Golden Gate Bridge and replace it with zinc-based paint?

      30 years. The project began in 1965 and was completed in 1995.

    4. The salty air of the San Francisco Bay often damages paint on the Golden Gate Bridge. Why do you think there is so much salt in the air?

      The Golden Gate Bridge spans a strait on the Pacific Ocean. Like all oceans, the Pacific is a salty body of water. The fog and clouds that form around the Golden Gate are full of salt from the ocean.

    5. This painter is working on top of the south tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. What is his elevation?

      227 meters (745 feet). This was calculated by adding the elevation of the roadway (75 meters or 246 feet) and the additional height of the towers (152 meters or 500 feet).

    • The Golden Gate is the narrow strait that connects the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The open "gate" is formed by the Marin Headlands to the north and the San Francisco Peninsula to the south. The Marin Headlands are largely undeveloped land, while the San Francisco Peninsula is home to one of the most densely populated cities in California.
    • The Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937. Ever since then, the color of the bridge has been "International Orange." It was colored this vibrant shade to help passing ships see it through the thick fog of the region.
    • The original "International Orange" contained a high amount of lead, which can be toxic. A program to remove the original paint was begun in 1965 and completed in 1995. The newer paint is zinc-based.
    • The high salt content of the air above the Golden Gate corrodes, or damages, the paint on the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, more than 30 painters are required to constantly touch-up the corroded surface of the bridge.
    • Golden Gate Bridge painters cannot be acrophobic (afraid of heights)! The bridge carries six lanes of traffic about 75 meters (246 feet) above the Golden Gate. The bridge's two towers rise another 152 meters (500 feet) above that.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    bay Noun

    body of water partially surrounded by land, usually with a wide mouth to a larger body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: bay
    corrosion Noun

    process of chemicals breaking down or wearing away a material.

    dense Adjective

    having parts or molecules that are packed closely together.

    fog Noun

    clouds at ground level.

    Encyclopedic Entry: fog
    Golden Gate Bridge Noun

    (1937) suspension bridge connecting the strait between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

    headland Noun

    point of land, usually a steep cliff, that descends into a body of water.

    lead Noun

    chemical element with the symbol Pb.

    peninsula Noun

    piece of land jutting into a body of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: peninsula
    salt Noun

    (sodium chloride, NaCl) crystalline mineral often used as a seasoning or preservative for food.

    strait Noun

    narrow passage of water that connects two larger bodies of water.

    Encyclopedic Entry: strait
    toxic Adjective


    vibrant Adjective


    zinc Noun

    chemical element with the symbol Zn.