The Golden Gate Bridge Hums

Marin Headlands

May 17, 2021

In June 2020, the iconic Golden Gate Bridge started to hum. Or sing. Or scretech. Depends on who you ask.

The cause of the noise is reportedly a retrofit of the sidewalk safety railing on the western side, where the wind sweeps in from the Pacific. Twelve thousand slats were replaced with narrower ones to give the bridge a slimmer profile and make it safer in high winds, according to the Golden Gate Bridge District. Tweets with videos capturing the eerie humming all the way from the Presidio to the Marin Headlands went viral as one of the most photographed things in America started to sing.

At the time, bridge spokesman Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz told KQED that the noise was not unexpected. “As part of the design process, the District did extensive studies on the impacts of the project, including wind tunnel testing of a scale model of the Golden Gate Bridge under high winds ... The new musical tones coming from the bridge are a known and inevitable phenomenon." Cosulich-Schwartz said. But after receiving dozens of complaints, the Golden Gate Bridge District announced in July it would be studying the noise in the hope of finding a way to muffle it. Engineers in Canada are now hard at work figuring out how to silence the racket, reports the San Francisco Chronicle, though there are still few details on when or how the fix may happen.

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