US icons maintaining their wow factor

They’re another year older, but their appeal to travellers is undiminished.

It’s 134 years since the opening of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, while across the US in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is 80.

Both remain among the world’s most popular tourist attractions; never more so than in this age of the ‘selfie’.

Spanning New York City’s East River, the neo-Gothic Brooklyn Bridge is beloved by tourists as the scene of a romantic and inspiring stroll, with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, the river and the Statue of Liberty.

Photo courtesy Pexels

In fact, an estimated 4,000 pedestrians and 2,600 cyclists cross the bridge each day on a decking sitting above the six-lane roadway (which is used by about 120,000 vehicles daily)

A combination of a cable-stayed bridge and a suspension crossing, the bridge connects the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn and was seen as a giant leap in innovation at the time of its construction.

Photo courtesy Pexels

Back then, Brooklyn Bridge was one of the tallest structures in the world and towered over all of New York. It also helped turn Brooklyn from a rural farming area with scattered neighbourhoods into a bustling city suburb.

Hold onto your hat up there

If you’re visiting New York City and are fit enough, we thoroughly recommend the bridge walk, but be prepared for the bracing winds that often whip over the water and through your hair.

Although nowhere near as old, California’s Golden Gate Bridge is often described as “incomparable in the magnificence of its setting”.

Undoubtedly the most photographed bridge in the world, this striking structure spans the Golden Gate Strait which connect San Francisco Bay with the Pacific Ocean.

With its 746-foot tall towers, sweeping main cables, signature orange colour, and Art Deco styling, the Golden Gate Bridge attracts more than 10 million visitors a year.

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

Photo courtesy Pexels

The bridge is instantly recognised internationally and has been declared one of the Wonders of the Modern World by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

However, that wasn’t always the common view.

Many experts in the field doubted that the bridge could ever be built over a strait known for ferocious wind and blinding fog. And, after it opened, some sections of the media dubbed it an ‘ugly duckling’.

How wrong they were!

The bridge is especially beautiful on a sunny day with no wind. But when the area’s famous fog rolls in, the main span and towers can effectively disappear.

The bridge is visible from many parts of San Francisco. We found city buses were an ideal and affordable way to get to the viewing area on the southern side. San Francisco Muni’s 28 and 29 buses take you directly to the vista.

If you are able, we recommend a walk out onto the bridge’s pedestrian path.

It’s hard to really appreciate the size and height of the Golden Gate structure unless you’ve walked on it – at least a little way.

Both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge have featured in many movies, television shows and books.

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