Imagine the Golden Gate Bridge in various shades of orange or even painted with a black and yellow color scheme? Although pretty outlandish, they’re examples of the bridge’s deep mythology that are actually true.
While many first-time visitors still expect to see a giant golden bridge, despite all the easily Google able photos to the contrary, it is of course a custom shade of vermilion called International Orange.
But for the crews who paint the bridge, the golden question still arises often.
“It’s not gold and it’s named that because of the Golden Gate Straits actually coming into the bay.”
There are other facts, bridge painters are often called-on to rectify, like the assumption the bridge is repainted every year.
“The myth is you start at one end and go to the other end,” said Dellarocca who’s worked for the bridge district 28 years. “I always say you start at one end and you retire when you get to the other end.”
There are some rather odd historical tidbits from the soon-to-be 75-year-old bridge that are indeed true; The Navy envisioned an entirely different color scheme to increase the bridge’s visibility for ships and planes.
“If the Navy had had their way, they wanted to see it striped yellow and black,” said bridge spokeswoman Mary Currie. “So it would’ve been a big bumble bee I guess.”
Even the bridge’s famed architect Irving Morrow had originally envisioned a slightly different color palette.
“His original vision actually was to see the different components of the bridge painted in a slightly different hue,” said Currie.
It was Morrow that ultimately chose the bridge’s color after seeing steel pieces arriving from Pennsylvania Steel in a red primer color. As the bridge was assembled, Morrow saw how the color seemed to contrast nicely with the nearby hills and the bay.
But for thousands of tourists who visit the stately icon each year, there is still surprise that the bridge isn’t the shade of a gold bar. Karen Kerth, originally of Arizona, remembers when her parents first brought her to the bridge as a child.
“When they drove us across I was really upset because I thought it was going to be gold,” said Kerth, now all grown-up and living in San Jose. “I was mad at them because I thought was tricked.”
Today, it’s Kerth’s duty to school her guests on the reality of the bridge’s true color.
“When we bring people from other countries that are visiting us, we have to explain to them that it’s really not gold,” said Kerth. “It’s an orange bridge.”