Why San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is “Singing” After Its Structural Update

Kayla Blanton
Photo credit: Nirian - Getty Images
Photo credit: Nirian - Getty Images

From Prevention

  • San Francisco residents are posting videos of the Golden Gate Bridge “singing.”

  • Some find the sound beautiful and relaxing—others say it’s maddening.

  • The hums surfaced after high winds rippled through new railing slats, which were installed as part of a structural update to ensure safety.

San Francisco residents were met with an unfamiliar sound over the weekend when high winds rippled through new railing slats on the Golden Gate Bridge: It was “singing.” Some found the melodic whistle beautiful and relaxing—others, not so much.

Both sides took to Twitter to discuss. “Up close and with no people around, the sound was both surreal and peaceful, as if someone’s playing a very sad meditation song on surround sound,” one person tweeted. “The Golden Gate Bridge learned how to scream which is perfect for 2020,” another wrote.

Some report being able to hear the whooshing from home, which isn’t ideal. Another person claimed to have been hearing the sound, unexplained, for weeks: “[I] felt like I was losing my mind.”

As one might expect, the whirr is especially deafening on the bridge itself. Roaming Records on YouTube shared a video from their recent journey across, and well, you don’t want to watch it on maximum volume.

According to KQED, the railing slats were installed along the bridge’s bike and walking path so it could, ironically enough, better handle the wind’s jostle. At first, reports said officials were unaware that the update would have this noisy effect. However, a new statement confirms that they expected lady Golden to vocalize.

“The Golden Gate Bridge has started to sing. The new musical tones coming from the bridge are a known and inevitable phenomenon that stem from our wind retrofit during very high winds,” Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz of the city’s Bridge District said in the statement. “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 tests, which you can watch in this video, reveal that the bridge would in fact “begin to hum” when met with high-speed winds. And despite mixed reviews from the city, the update will remain as is. According to Cosulich-Schwartz, it’s “necessary to ensure the safety and structural integrity of the bridge for generations to come.”

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