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Why The Golden Gate Bridge Is Orange

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At one time the Army wanted to paint it in black and yellow stripes, like a bumblebee.

That would have been memorable: The Bumblebee Bridge!

So it was a fluke?

The story goes something like this. The steel used in the Golden Gate Bridge was manufactured by Bethlehem Steel in several East Coast plants, and then shipped, via boat, to San Francisco. A sealant—a red-tinged orange paint—coated the steel to keep it safe from corrosion. One morning, Irving Morrow, the consulting architect for the Golden Gate Bridge, was on a ferry in the San Francisco Bay when he saw the rising orange steel towers on the horizon and he had an epiphany. The bridge should remain orange. A heated debate ensued, but eventually, Morrow would win and the bridge was painted a color called International Orange. One of the most striking man-made objects got that way, in part, because of a fluke and an architect’s resolve.

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