The bridge-opening celebration began on May 27, 1937 and lasted for one week. The day before vehicle traffic was allowed, 200,000 people crossed either on foot or on roller skates.On opening day, Mayor Angelo Rossi and other officials rode the ferry to Marin, then crossed the bridge in a motorcade past three ceremonial “barriers”, the last a blockade of beauty queens who required Joseph Strauss to present the bridge to the Highway District before allowing him to pass. An official song, “There’s a Silver Moon on the Golden Gate”, was chosen to commemorate the event. Strauss wrote a poem that is now on the Golden Gate Bridge entitled “The Mighty Task is Done.” The next day, President Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, D.C. signaling the official start of vehicle traffic over the Bridge at noon. As the celebration got out of hand there was a small riot in the uptown Polk Gulch area. Weeks of civil and cultural activities called “the Fiesta” followed. A statue of Strauss was moved in 1955 to a site near the bridge.
In May 1987, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration, the Golden Gate Bridge district again closed the bridge to automobile traffic and allowed pedestrians to cross the bridge. However, this celebration attracted 750,000 to 1,000,000 people, and ineffective crowd control meant the bridge became congested with roughly 300,000 people, causing the center span of the bridge to flatten out under the weight.Although the bridge is designed to flex in that way under heavy loads, and was estimated not to have exceeded 40% of the yielding stress of the suspension cables,bridge officials stated that uncontrolled pedestrian access was not being considered as part of the 75th anniversary on Sunday, May 27, 2012,because of the additional law enforcement costs required “since 9/11”.
Until 1964, the Golden Gate Bridge had the longest suspension bridge main span in the world, at 4,200 feet (1,300 m). Since 1964 its main span length has been surpassed by ten bridges; it now has the second-longest main span in the United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. The total length of the Golden Gate Bridge from abutment to abutment is 8,981 feet (2,737 m).
The Golden Gate Bridge’s clearance above high water averages 220 feet (67 m) while its towers, at 746 feet (227 m) above the water, were the world’s tallest on a suspension bridge until 1998 when bridges in Denmark and Japan were completed.