You'd think the color of the most photographed bridge in the world would have a more exciting name than "international orange." Something like "vermilion"or "terra cotta" or "burnt sienna" might seem more appropriate.
Whatever you call it, it's the vivid, unmistakable color of the Golden Gate Bridge, which turns 75 next year. But back in the 1930s,the now-iconic hue was a radical choice.
A painter at work in 1937, the year the Golden Gate Bridge opened. It was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time; painters had to cover morethan 10 million square feet of steel.
'Unique And Unconventional Treatment'
First, to set the record straight, the bridge is named not for its hue, but for its location. It's built above theGolden Gate Strait, the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.
The color came about thanks to Irving Morrow, the Golden Gate's consulting architect, who noticed the strikingreddish-orange primer painted on some of the steel.
Morrow designed the bridge's lighting and its art-deco styling. He also championed the unusual color. Most bridges were gray, silver or black. It wasexpected that the Golden Gate Bridge would follow suit.
"He had to convince the Department of War, the permitting agency at the time, that the largest suspension span ever built at the time [should]have this wild crazy color," says Golden Gate Bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie.
The bridge's construction began in 1933. Two years later, Morrow made the case for the wild color in the 29-pagedocument, Report on Color and Lighting, which he presented to the bridge's board of directors.
"The Golden Gate Bridge," Morrow wrote, "is one of the greatest monuments of all time. Its unprecedented sizeand scale, along with its grace of form and independence of conception, all call for unique and unconventional treatment from every point of view. What has been thus played up in form should not be...