‘San Pedro’s Golden Gate’ Celebrates 50 Years

Byline: Shane Scott

'San Pedro's Golden Gate' Celebrates 50 Years

SAN PEDRO — A gathering of attendees of all ages came to a 50th birthday celebration, held for Los Angeles Harbor’s iconic Vincent Thomas Bridge.

The celebration was hosted by the Los Angeles Maritime Museum, and “Everything was themed after the bridge,” said museum director Marifrances Trivelli. “We had a children’s Lego bridge building and drawing booths — and even cakes with photos of the bridge at night and during the day.”

The family of the man the bridge was named for, the late California Assemblyman Vincent Thomas, was present to lead in the singing of “Happy Birthday” to the bridge.

The suspension bridge — sometimes called “San Pedro’s Golden Gate” — opened in 1963. Assemblyman Vincent Thomas, of San Pedro, had tirelessly championed its construction. Thomas spent 19 years, beginning in 1940, arguing for the legislation necessary to build the bridge. He faced constant criticism, as many claimed he was backing a “bridge to nowhere.”

The bridge, which is part of Route 47, crosses Los Angeles Harbor, linking San Pedro to Terminal Island. It is currently the fourth longest suspension bridge in California, with the 76th longest span in the world.

The clear height of the navigation channel below it is approximately 185 feet, and it was the first bridge of its kind to be constructed on pilings.

Construction required 92,000 tons of Portland cement, 13,000 tons of lightweight concrete, 14,100 tons of steel and 1,270 tons of suspension cable. It was built to withstand winds of 90 mph — double the strength required by code.

The Vincent Thomas Bridge is 6,050 feet in length overall, with a main suspension span of 1,500 feet and 500-foot spans on each side. The towers are 365 feet high.

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