Why is it called the Golden Gate Bridge when it is painted red?

A brilliant question from Poppet that I just had to answer.

As Poppet is getting older she is asking more and more questions about anything and everything she comes across in life. Sometimes I can answer them easily but on a growing number of occasions I don’t know the answer. Recently she asked me why the iconic San Francisco bridge is called the Golden Gate bridge when it is painted red. This is a great question and one that I didn’t know the answer too but resolved to find out.

More and more questions

Poppet is getting more inquisitive as she gets older and I really love the fact that she is keen to learn more about the world and challenging me and her mum to answer those questions. Also, the questions are often things I want to know as well and I kick myself for not asking them earlier. In this example Charlie and I have ridden bikes across the Golden Gate Bridge, and I’ve seen it in films and TV many times over the years but never actually asked that simple question. Why not?
Kids are great at making things simple but at the same time interesting. Often as adults I find we over complicate things or look to take on the wrong knowledge, perhaps something we think is impressive and we can ignore the obvious stuff which can be a lot more interesting and a lot better place to start. Just like "Why is it called the Golden Gate Bridge when it is red?"

Before turning to the internet to find my answer I ponder a couple of ideas, could it have been the entry point to Gold rush country in the USA between 1848 and 1855. Or maybe in a certain light the red bridge looks gold? But neither of these were the answer.

The answer to why it is called the Golden Gate Bridge

Okay, I’ll put you out of your misery and give you the answer. The stretch of water underneath the bridge linking San Francisco Bay to the Pacific Ocean is called the Golden Gate Strait. Therefore, the bridge that crosses the strait is known as the Golden Gate Bridge. The strait was originally called the “Boca del Puerto de San Francisco” mouth of the Port of San Francisco until 1846 when Army Captain John C. Fremont gazed at the narrow strait and said “It is a golden gate to trade with the Orient.”

John C. Fremont had an interesting history and this included exploring and mapping out the West coast of America when he named the strait. To learn more take a look at his Wikipedia Bio.

If your interested in learning more about this iconic bridge then take a look at the video from National Geographic I've embedded below.

Telling Poppet the answer

After looking up the answer I sat down and explained it Poppet. She didn’t seem that interested and I guess kid’s minds and focus move on. But I didn’t really mind, hopefully the information sticks but who knows. She had asked a question I wanted to know the answer to and for a time so did she. I know it can be a pain sometimes when kids ask questions but I would encourage you to try to answer as many as possible. Especially the ones that interest you.

Useful links

I searched through several sources to find and confirm the answer but the best website I found was the Golden Gate Bridge Transport and District Page.

Travelling to San Francisco

As well as the Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco has many great attractions on offer including the entertainment and restaurants of Fisherman’s Wharf, taking a tour of Alcatraz, one of the toughest prisons in history, and riding a tram up and down the famous hilly streets to Union square. If you are thinking about travelling to San Francisco, then consider taking an organised tour like these from Attraction Tix.

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This article on the Automates Avenue can also been found on #fearlessfamtrav, #AWanderfulChildhood and #FamilyFunLinkyalong with other great family travel related articles.

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