GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, THE [Report of the Chief Engineer to the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District, California, September 1937]. San Francisco: January 1938.

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Joseph B. Strauss [Chief Engineer]

Joseph B. Strauss [Chief Engineer]: THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE [Report of the Chief Engineer to the Board of Directors of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District, California, September 1937]. San Francisco: Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District, January 1938. First edition [#537]. Quarto. Embossed and decorated textured salmon cloth. Photo illustrated endpapers. 246 pp. 12 fold-out vellum engineering schematics. 1 fold-out color plate. Facsimile letter frontis[as issued]. Inkstamped and SIGNED to title page. Architectural historians’ bookplate to front endpaper. Plate vi slightly offsetted. Trivial wear overall, thus a nearly fine copy of this hybrid title.

Instamped “Compliments of” then boldy signed by Chief Engineer Joseph B. Strauss to half-title page. An exceptional artifact that spans multiple genres: this title is an Industrial PhotoBook, a celebration of Industrial Design in both form and content, a Streamline Moderne artifact, and a testament  to the skills of the Californian Book Design and Binding craftspeople of the San Franciso Bay Area during the inter-war years. The colophon states “Lithographed in the United States of America by Schwabacher-Frey Company, San Francisco, California.”

“A great city with water barriers and no bridges is like a skyscraper with no elevators. Bridges are a monument to progress.” – Chief Engineer Joseph B. Strauss in a 1930 radio address

8.5 x 11 hardcover book with 246 pages and 12 fold-out vellum engineering schematics, one fold-out color plate, and fully illustrated with gorgeous halftone photographs and technical details.

Contents include:

  • Book One - General History The District and Its Characteristics; Early History of the Site; Development of Need for the Bridge; First Study, Reconnaissance and Estimate; Evolution of the Golden Gate Bridge and Highway District; Organization of District; Chief Engineer's Report of 1930; The Bond Election; Bidding Plans and Bids; Second Stage of Litigation; Awardof Contracts; Building the Structure; Construction Cost; The Completed Structure; Forecasts, Trends and Influences; General Aspects; Principal Dimensions and Quantities; List of Contractors.
  • Book Two - Planning Basis of Design; Main Piers; Anchorages; Main Towers; Cables; The Suspended Structure;Approaches; Toll Plaza; Power, Lighting and Signal Facilities.
  • Book Three- Construction Concrete Materials and Handling; Anchorage Construction; Marin Pier Construction; San Francisco Pier Construction; Tower Erection; Cable Construction; Erection of Stiffening Trusses and Floor; Roadway Pavement and Sidewalks; Construction of San Francisco and Marin Approaches; Construction of Presidio Approach Road.
  • Book Four - Materials Structural Steel;Heat-Treated Eye-Bars; Wires and Ropes; Cast Steel; Forged Steel; Other Materials.
  • Book Five - Fabrication Tower Legs; Stiffening Trusses; Shop Painting.

From the Golden Gate Bridge website: “In 1921, Joseph B. Strauss hired Charles A. Ellis to head up his staff and soon advanced him to Vice President, Strauss Engineering Corporation, in charge of bridge design and construction supervision. In 1925, Strauss had Ellis arrange for Prof. George F. Swain of Harvard University and Leon Moisseiff who designed New York’s Manhattan Bridge to serve on a Board of Consultants for the project.

“Both men reviewed Strauss’s original plans for a symmetrical cantilever-suspension hybrid bridge and found them to be practical from an engineering standpoint and capable of being built. In November 1925, Moisseiff expressed concern about the hybrid design and submitted to Strauss his Report on Comparative Design of a Stiffened Suspension Bridge over the Golden Gate Strait at San Francisco, CA, which describes a design contrasting from the cantilever-suspension hybrid bridge design—a suspension span design.

“The suspension span concept did not immediately become the leading design for the bridge as Strauss continued to campaign for a bridge using his original symmetrical cantilever-suspension hybrid design as late as 1929.

“On August 15, 1929, the Board appointed prominent engineers Moisseiff, O.H. Ammann, and University of California, Engineering School, Berkeley, CA, Professor Charles Derleth, Jr., to serve as the Advisory Board of Engineers, alongside Chief Engineer Strauss. Strauss also appointed Ellis to work with the Advisory Board of Engineers, serving as its Secretary.

“The timing of the change from the original Strauss proposal to a suspension bridge design is not precisely known, but it was accomplished sometime between the release of Moisseiff’s November 1925 report and the first meeting of the Advisory Board of Engineers on August 27, 1929. Further, The Golden Gate Bridge, Report of the Chief Engineer, September 1937, by Strauss, provides no details on the transition from his originally proposed symmetrical cantilever-suspension hybrid bridge to the Moisseiff-inspired suspension span design that was eventually built, and simply states, “... In the interval which had elapsed any advantages possessed by the cantilever-suspension type bridge had practically disappeared and on recommendation of the Chief Engineer, the cantilever-suspension type was abandoned in favor of the simple suspension type.”

“On March 1, 1930, with final design underway and after overseeing test borings at the construction site, Ellis returned to Chicago to work on refining the design and estimates, while continuing to consult with Advisory Board of Engineers members Moisseiff and Ammann.

“Ellis was responsible for directing the thousands of calculations required, for the computation of stresses, the preparation of stress sheets, as well as the development of the specifications, contracts and proposal forms. He worked tirelessly until December 5, 1931, when Strauss insisted he take a vacation. Three days before his vacation was over, Ellis received a letter from Strauss instructing him to turn all his work over to his assistant Clarahan, and to take an indefinite unpaid vacation.

“For reasons still not clear today, Strauss fired Ellis. Ellis had lost his place in the history receiving no credit for his critical role in the design of the landmark Bridge. He went on to join the engineering faculty at Purdue University in 1934, from where he retired as Professor Emeritus of the Division of Structural Engineering in 1947. He passed away on August 29, 1949.

“The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District to this day celebrates the collective efforts of the many engineers and other professionals who created the final design of the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. The contribution of each, as individuals and as a team, led to the development of one of the premier suspension spans of our time. Strauss was the leading force behind seeing the Golden Gate Bridge become a reality, hands down. Strauss was the visionary, promoter, team builder, coordinator, and manager of the preliminary and final designs for the Span. He also led the construction of the Bridge, working with a team of engineers, architects, geologists, other professionals, and the many dedicated contractors and workers involved in the project. Strauss surrounded himself with the right people of the 1930s bridge building era, the experts in each field.

“Most notably was the participation by the following individuals, all of whom, with the exception of Charles A. Ellis, who served as Design Engineer under Strauss from 1922 to 1931, are named on a dedication plaque that remains mounted on the San Francisco tower of the Bridge to this day: “Clifford E. Paine, Strauss Engineering Corporation Vice President, served as Principal Assistant Engineer during final design and construction; Russell G. Cone was Resident Engineer during construction; Charles Clarahan, Jr. and Dwight N. Wetherell served as Assistant Engineers; O.H. Ammann, Prof. Charles Derleth, Jr., and Leon S. Moisseiff served on the Advisory Board of Engineers; Sydney W. Taylor, Jr. was Consulting Traffic Engineer; Irving F. Morrow, Morrow and Morrow Architects, was Consulting Architect; and Andrew C. Lawson and Allan E. Sedgwick were Consulting Geologists.

“Although Strauss never officially recognized Ellis for his leadership efforts in the design of the Bridge, the record clearly demonstrates that he deserves significant credit for the suspension bridge design, which we see and cherish today.

“Golden Gate Bridge Chief Engineer Strauss was honored when a statue of his likeness, mounted on grand memorial art deco styled concrete pedestal, was unveiled at its original location directly adjacent to Highway 101 in 1949. The statue was unveiled by his widow Annette Strauss on May 29, 1941, as Strauss had passed away May 16, 1938 at 68 years of age. This grand memorial was moved to what is today the Southeast Visitor area.”

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco, California, and the United States. It has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers. The Frommer's travel guide describes the Golden Gate Bridge as "possibly the most beautiful, certainly the most photographed, bridge in the world."At the time of its opening in 1937, it was both the longest and the tallest suspension bridge in the world, with a main span of 4,200 feet (1,280 m) and a total height of 746 feet (227 m). Today, the Golden Gate Bridge is neither the longest nor the tallest in the world, but remains the tallest bridge in the United States.

And this book is a magnificent tribute to the origins and execution of the International Orange Bridge.