Golden Gate

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Golden Gate
Boca del Puerto de San Francisco
Wpdms usgs photo golden gate.jpg
A map showing the location of the Golden Gate strait
Location Map San Francisco Bay Area.png
Red pog.svg
Golden Gate
Scientific Investigations Map 2917.jpg
Perspective view looking southwest over the Golden Gate Bridge toward the Pacific Ocean.
LocationBetween San Francisco Peninsula and Marin Headlands
Coordinates 37°49′N122°30′W / 37.81°N 122.50°W / 37.81; -122.50 Coordinates: 37°49′N122°30′W / 37.81°N 122.50°W / 37.81; -122.50
Type strait
Max. width3 miles (4.8 km)
Min. width1.1 miles (1.8 km)
Max. depth115 meters (377 ft) [1]
Settlements San Francisco, CA

The Golden Gate is a strait on the west coast of North America that connects San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean. [2] It is defined by the headlands of the San Francisco Peninsula and the Marin Peninsula, and, since 1937, has been spanned by the Golden Gate Bridge. The entire shoreline and adjacent waters throughout the strait are managed by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. [3]



During the last ice age, when sea level was several hundred feet lower, the waters of the glacier-fed Sacramento River and the San Joaquin River scoured a deep channel through the bedrock on their way to the ocean. (A similar process created the undersea Hudson Canyon off the coast of New York and New Jersey.) The strait is well known today for its depth and powerful tidal currents from the Pacific Ocean. Many small whirlpools and eddies can form in its waters. With its strong currents, rocky reefs and fog, the Golden Gate is the site of over 100 shipwrecks.[ citation needed ]


Fog rolls into San Francisco Bay through the Golden Gate, almost obscuring Alcatraz Island Golden Gate with fog.jpg
Fog rolls into San Francisco Bay through the Golden Gate, almost obscuring Alcatraz Island
Fog obscures the Golden Gate as it spills into San Francisco Bay in this satellite image Satellite view of fog over the Golden Gate.jpg
Fog obscures the Golden Gate as it spills into San Francisco Bay in this satellite image

The Golden Gate is often shrouded in coastal fog, especially during the summer. Heat generated in the California Central Valley causes air there to rise, creating a low pressure area that pulls in cool, moist air from over the Pacific Ocean. The Golden Gate forms the largest break in the hills of the California Coast Range, allowing a persistent, dense stream of fog to enter the bay there. [4] Although there is no weather station on Golden Gate proper, the area has a mediterranean climate (Köppen Csb) with very narrow temperature fluctuations, cool summers and mild winters. For the nearest weather station see the weatherbox of San Francisco. The Golden Gate Bridge being nearer the ocean and at elevation indicate it being cooler during summer days. Nearer the San Francisco urban core, the temperatures resemble the official NOAA weather station instead.


The Golden Gate photographed from Telegraph Hill by Carleton Watkins c. 1868 The Golden Gate, from Telegraph Hill, San Francisco LACMA M.91.359.75.jpg
The Golden Gate photographed from Telegraph Hill by Carleton Watkins c. 1868

Before Europeans arrived in the 18th century the area around the strait and the bay was inhabited by Native Americans - the Ohlone people to the south and Coast Miwok to the north. Descendants of both tribes remain in the area. [5] [6]

The opening to the strait was surprisingly elusive for early European explorers, presumably due to persistent summer fog. The strait is not recorded in the voyages of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo nor Francis Drake, both of whom may have explored the nearby coast in the 16th century in search of the fabled Northwest Passage.[ citation needed ] The strait is also unrecorded in observations by Spanish galleons on the Manila-Acapulco run from the Philippines that laid up in nearby Drakes Bay to the north. These rarely passed east of the Farallon Islands (27 miles (43 km) west of the Golden Gate), for fear of the possibility of rocks between the islands and the mainland.[ citation needed ]

The first recorded observation of the strait occurred nearly two hundred years later than the earliest European explorations of the coast. In 1769, Sgt José Francisco Ortega, the leader of a scouting party sent north along the San Francisco Peninsula by Don Gaspar de Portolá from their expedition encampment in San Pedro Valley to locate the Point Reyes headlands, reported back to Portolá that he could not reach the location because of the existence of the strait. [7] On August 5, 1775 Juan de Ayala and the crew of his ship San Carlos became the first Europeans known to have passed through the strait, anchoring in a cove behind Angel Island, the cove now named in Ayala's honor. Until the 1840s, the strait was called the "Boca del Puerto de San Francisco" ("Mouth of the Port of San Francisco"). On July 1, 1846, before the discovery of gold in California, the entrance acquired a new name. In his memoirs, John C. Frémont wrote, "To this Gate I gave the name of 'Chrysopylae', or 'Golden Gate'; for the same reasons that the harbor of Byzantium was called Chrysoceras, or Golden Horn." [8] He went on to comment that the strait was “a golden gate to trade with the Orient.” [9]


The Golden Gate, featured on a postage stamp issued in 1923 Golden Gate22-20c.jpg
The Golden Gate, featured on a postage stamp issued in 1923

The U.S. Post Office issued a postage stamp on May 1, 1923, celebrating The Golden Gate, portraying the schooner USS Babcock passing through an empty strait. The Babcock served in the United States Navy from 1917 to 1919, with San Francisco as its port of call. [10]

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge, as seen from the Marin Headlands looking south Golden Gate 1.jpg
The Golden Gate Bridge, as seen from the Marin Headlands looking south

In 1933 construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge, a suspension bridge connecting the city of San Francisco on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula to Marin County. Today it is part of both US Highway 101 and California Route 1.

The Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when completed in 1937, and is an internationally recognized symbol of San Francisco and the state of California. Since its completion the span has been surpassed by eighteen other bridges, and remains second longest in the United States, after the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge in New York City. In 2007, it was ranked fifth on the List of America's Favorite Architecture by the American Institute of Architects.

The Golden Gate strait serves as the primary access channel for navigation to and from the San Francisco Bay, one of the largest cargo ports in the United States. Commercial ports includes the Port of Oakland, the Port of Richmond, and the Port of San Francisco. Commercial cargo ships use the Golden Gate to access the San Francisco Bay, as well as barges, tankers, fishing boats, cruise ships, and privately owned boats, including wind-surfers and kite-boards. About 9000 ships moved through the Golden Gate in 2014, and a similar amount in 2015. [11] The U.S Coast Guard maintains a Vessel Traffic Service to monitor and regulate vessel traffic through the Golden Gate. [12]

For navigational guidance, there are white and green lights on the center of the span of the Golden Gate Bridge. [13] Lighthouses with beacons and foghorns provide alerts at Point Bonita, Point Diablo, Lime Point and Mile Rocks. Before the Golden Gate Bridge was built, a lighthouse protected the south side of the strait at Fort Point. Buoys and radar reflectors provide additional navigational aid at various locations throughout the strait. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Golden Gate Bridge</span> San Francisco Bay suspension bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the one-mile-wide (1.6 km) strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The structure links the U.S. city of San Francisco, California—the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula—to Marin County, carrying both U.S. Route 101 and California State Route 1 across the strait. It also carries pedestrian and bicycle traffic, and is designated as part of U.S. Bicycle Route 95. Being declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers, the bridge is one of the most internationally recognized symbols of San Francisco and California. It was initially designed by engineer Joseph Strauss in 1917. The bridge was named for the Golden Gate strait, the channel that it spans.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Francisco Bay</span> Shallow estuary on the coast of California, United States

San Francisco Bay is a large tidal estuary in the U.S. state of California, and gives its name to the San Francisco Bay Area. It is dominated by the large cities of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">U.S. Route 101</span> Numbered U.S. Highway in California, Oregon, and Washington in the United States

U.S. Route 101, or U.S. Highway 101 (US 101), is a north–south United States Numbered Highway that runs through the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, on the West Coast of the United States. It is also known as El Camino Real where its route along the southern and central California coast approximates the commemorative trail which links the Spanish missions, pueblos, and presidios. It merges at some points with California State Route 1 (SR 1).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gaspar de Portolá</span> 18th-century Spanish military officer and first Governor of the Californias

Gaspar de Portolá y Rovira was a Spanish military officer, best known for leading the Portolá expedition into California and for serving as the first Governor of the Californias. His expedition laid the foundations of important Californian cities like San Diego and Monterey, and bestowed names to geographic features throughout California, many of which are still in use.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Pablo Bay</span> Tidal estuary in the San Francisco Bay Area

San Pablo Bay is a tidal estuary that forms the northern extension of San Francisco Bay in the East Bay and North Bay regions of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carquinez Strait</span> Tidal strait in Northern California

The Carquinez Strait is a narrow tidal strait in Northern California. It is part of the tidal estuary of the Sacramento and the San Joaquin rivers as they drain into the San Francisco Bay. The strait is eight miles (13 km) long and connects Suisun Bay, which receives the waters of the combined rivers, with San Pablo Bay, a northern extension of the San Francisco Bay.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marin Headlands</span> Southernmost peninsula of the Marin Peninsula in California, United States

The Marin Headlands is a hilly peninsula at the southernmost end of Marin County, California, United States, located just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge, which connects the two counties and peninsulas. The entire area is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The Headlands are famous for their views of the Bay Area, especially of the Golden Gate Bridge.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Portolá expedition</span> Exploration of the present-day state of California, United States, 1769–1770

The Portolá expedition was a Spanish voyage of exploration in 1769–1770 that was the first recorded European land entry and exploration of the interior of the present-day U.S. state of California. It was led by Gaspar de Portolá, governor of Las Californias, the Spanish colonial province that included California, Baja California, and other parts of present-day Mexico and the United States. The expedition led to the founding of Alta California and contributed to the solidification of Spanish territorial claims in the disputed and unexplored regions along the Pacific coast of North America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Golden Gate National Recreation Area</span> U.S. National Recreation Area surrounding San Francisco Bay Area

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA) is a U.S. National Recreation Area protecting 82,116 acres (33,231 ha) of ecologically and historically significant landscapes surrounding the San Francisco Bay Area. Much of the park is land formerly used by the United States Army. GGNRA is managed by the National Park Service and is the most visited unit of the National Park system in the United States, with more than 15 million visitors a year. It is also one of the largest urban parks in the world, with a size two-and-a-half times that of the consolidated city and county of San Francisco.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area</span> Overview of transportation in the San Francisco Bay Area, California, United States

People in the San Francisco Bay Area rely on a complex multimodal transportation infrastructure consisting of roads, bridges, highways, rail, tunnels, airports, seaports, and bike and pedestrian paths. The development, maintenance, and operation of these different modes of transportation are overseen by various agencies, including the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the Association of Bay Area Governments, San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. These and other organizations collectively manage several interstate highways and state routes, two subway networks, two commuter rail agencies, eight trans-bay bridges, transbay ferry service, local bus service, three international airports, and an extensive network of roads, tunnels, and bike paths.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Berkeley Hills</span> Region of the Pacific Coast Ranges

The Berkeley Hills are a range of the Pacific Coast Ranges that overlook the northeast side of the valley that encompasses San Francisco Bay. They were previously called the "Contra Costa Range/Hills", but with the establishment of Berkeley and the University of California, the current usage was applied by geographers and gazetteers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Francisco fog</span> Common weather phenomenon in San Francisco

Fog is a common weather phenomenon in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as along the entire coastline of California extending south to the northwest coast of the Baja California Peninsula. The frequency of fog and low-lying stratus clouds is due to a combination of factors particular to the region that are especially prevalent in the summer. Another type of fog, tule fog, can occur during the winter. There are occasions when both types can occur simultaneously in the Bay Area. The prevalence of fog in the San Francisco Bay Area has decreased, and this trend is typically attributed to climate change.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Marin Hills</span>

The Marin Hills are a series of steep high ridges and peaks in southern Marin County. They are a part of the long Pacific Coast Ranges mountain system. The centerpoint of these hills is the 2,571 foot Mount Tamalpais near Mill Valley. The hills are bordered to the north by the Santa Rosa Plain and Laguna de Santa Rosa; to the east by San Pablo Bay, the northern arm of San Francisco Bay; to the south by Golden Gate Strait; and to the west by the San Andreas Fault, running through Tomales Bay, Olema Valley, Bolinas Lagoon, and Stinson Beach. Parts of the hills are protected for their scenic beauty by Mount Tamalpais State Park and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The many ridges and peaks of these hills form a dramatic backdrop to the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco skyline, and several towns around Richardson Bay when viewed from the south.

SS <i>City of Rio de Janeiro</i>

The SS City of Rio de Janeiro was an iron-hulled steam-powered passenger ship, launched in 1878, which sailed between San Francisco and various Asian Pacific ports. On 22 February 1901, the vessel sank after striking a submerged reef at the entry to San Francisco Bay while inward bound from Hong Kong. Of the approximately 220 passengers and crew on board, fewer than 85 people survived the sinking, while 135 others were killed in the catastrophe. The wreck lies in 287 feet (87 m) of water just off the Golden Gate and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as nationally significant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ferries of San Francisco Bay</span>

San Francisco Bay in California has been served by ferries of all types for over 150 years. John Reed established a sailboat ferry service in 1826. Although the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge led to the decline in the importance of most ferries, some are still in use today for both commuters and tourists.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Rodeo Lagoon</span> Lagoon in the state of California, United States

Rodeo Lagoon is a coastal lagoon located in the Marin Headlands division of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is in southern Marin County, California. This brackish water body is separated from the Pacific Ocean by a sand bar that forms Rodeo Beach. Rodeo Lagoon stretches approximately 900 metres (3,000 ft) by 250 metres (820 ft), and is about 2 metres (6.6 ft) deep at its maximum depth. It covers a surface area of about 15 hectares.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Golden Gate Raptor Observatory</span> Bird research organization

The Golden Gate Raptor Observatory (GGRO) is a long term program of the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy in cooperation with the National Park Service. The GGRO's mission is to study migrating birds of prey along the Pacific coast and to inspire the preservation of raptor populations in California. Established in 1985, it is located in the Marin Headlands, just north of San Francisco, California. The Raptor Observatory operates under the philosophy that incorporating citizens into the process of gathering scientific data will deepen long-term conservation results. Consequently, the organization's small staff is supported by the work of 280+ highly trained volunteers, coming from all different disciplines. The GGRO publishes an annual report, contributes annual results to national databases, and collaborates on various research projects with local universities.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">San Francisco Bay Area</span> Region of California in the United States

The San Francisco Bay Area, often referred to as simply the Bay Area, is a populous region surrounding the San Francisco, San Pablo, and Suisun Bay estuaries in Northern California. The Bay Area is defined by the Association of Bay Area Governments to include the nine counties that border the aforementioned estuaries: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, Sonoma, and San Francisco. Other definitions may be either smaller or larger, and may include neighboring counties that do not border the bay such as Santa Cruz and San Benito ; or San Joaquin, Merced, and Stanislaus. The core cities of the Bay Area are San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.

SS <i>City of Chester</i>

The SS City of Chester was a steamship built in 1875 that sank after a collision in a dense fog with SS Oceanic at the Golden Gate in San Francisco Bay on August 22, 1888. She was owned by the Oregon Railroad Co. and leased by the Pacific Coast Steamship Company.

<i>San Carlos</i> (ship) Naval vessel - San Carlos (1768 ship)

The San Carlos was a 18th-century Spanish packet boat built in 1765 at the Royal Shipyard of Havana, Cuba. The ship entered service in 1765 with two-decks and 80 guns. In 1775, the San Carlos was the first ship to enter the San Francisco Bay, under the command of Spanish naval officer and explorer, Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala. In 1801, it sailed to Cartagena, Spain and converted into a three-deck ship with 112 guns.


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