Friday, January 27, 2012

Chrysopylae Bridge

Photo by Trey Ratcliff (

Flight into Darkness was originally titled The Golden Gate. The title was changed when I decided that the story would be written as the 2nd book in the Flight Trilogy. Since the Golden Gate Bridge is the key focal point in the story, I wanted to share an interesting story how the bridge got its name—a fact that most people are not aware of.


Construction began on January 5, 1933. The project cost $35 million and opened one month ahead of schedule and $1.3 million under budget. Eleven construction workers died while working on the bridge and nineteen others were saved by the use of movable safety netting beneath the construction site.

Bridge-opening Celebration

The bridge-opening celebration began on May 27, 1937, and lasted for one week. When writing about Pedestrian Day the next day, San Francisco Chronicle reporter Wills O’Brien wrote, “A necklace of surpassing beauty was placed about the lovely throat of San Francisco yesterday.”

May 27, 1937 - Pedestrian Day

May 28, 1937 - Bridge opens to vehicular traffic
The Golden Gate Bridge opened to vehicular traffic at twelve o'clock noon, when President Franklin D. Roosevelt pressed a telegraph key in the White House to announce the event to the world.


More people die by suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge than any other site in the world. After a fall of approximately four seconds, jumpers hit the water at around 75 mph. Most jumpers die from impact trauma on contact with the water. The few who survive the initial impact generally drown or die of hypothermia in the cold water. Most suicidal jumps occur on the side facing the bay. The side facing the Pacific is closed to pedestrians. The fatality rate of jumping is roughly 98%. The bridge is fitted with suicide hotline telephones, and staff patrol the bridge in carts, looking for people who appear to be planning to jump. The bridge is closed to pedestrians at night. Cyclists are permitted across at night, but must be buzzed in and out through the remotely controlled security gates.

How the Golden Gate got its name: "Chrysopylae"

A fact not commonly known—even among Californians—is how the Golden Gate got its name. Before the bridge, there was only the strait—later named the Golden Gate Strait. The Golden Gate Strait is the entrance to the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The strait is approximately three-miles long by one-mile wide.

On June 5, 1848, Army officer John C. Fremont submitted his "Geographical Memoir" to the U.S. Senate, where the San Francisco Bay entrance was called Chrysopylae (Golden Gate). When Fremont named the strait, he had in mind the Chrysoceras (Golden Horn) of Constantinople (later Istanbul), and suggested that the San Francisco Bay would be advantageous for commerce.


Chrysoceras means Golden Horn (Chryso=gold; ceras=horn). The origin of the name is derived from Greek mythology. 

Zeus and Io – one of the most touching dramas in Greek Mythology; a story of infidelity and revenge.

Once upon a time, Zeus (the father of gods and men) was sitting high up on his Olympian throne when he spotted a beautiful young priestess named Io (eye-o). When he came to her, she was so awed by him that she immediately fell in love with him.

Zeus and Io
Zeus obviously knew that if he and Io were caught together, bad things would happen to Io. But being the typical womanizer that he was, having no fear of being caught, Zeus threw caution to the wind and entered into a passionate affair with Io.

Zeus presents Io as a gift to Hera
It wasn’t long before Zeus began to sense that Hera (the goddess of women and marriage, and wife of Zeus) might be suspicious of his relations with Io. In an attempt to hide her from Hera, he changed the girl into a beautiful white cow, but Hera saw right through Zeus' plot. Pretending that Io was just a normal cow, she demands Zeus to give her the heifer maiden as a gift. Now, Zeus could not refuse Hera without giving himself away. He had no choice but to turn Io over to Hera.

Hermes is ordered by Zeus to kill Argus
Zeus was inflamed. With Argus on guard, he couldn’t secretly meet with the lovely Io. He instructed his son, Hermes, to kill Argus. To this day, Hermes is often called Argeiphontes, ‘the slayer of Argus’. He lulled the herdsman to sleep with sweet music and then beheaded the sleeping watchman before he could defend himself. Io was now free of the all seeing Argus.

Bosphorus Strait divides Europe and Asia
The punishment was not over yet. The gadfly was still goading the heifer-girl to the ends of the earth. Io’s flight took her East towards Asia, hopping across the Bosphorus Strait (a strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia), giving the strait its name (boos-foros, which is Greek for cow-ford).

Golden Horn River - Istanbul
After years of tortuous wandering, Io came upon what is now the Golden Horn River where the hand of Zeus reached out and touched her, lifting Hera’s curse and restoring her to her youthful beauty. Impregnated by the divine sperm of Zeus, Io gave birth to a daughter, Keroessa (Chrysoceras)

When Keroessa was born, she carried the scars of her mother’s transformation: there were two projections on both sides of her forehead like horns. It was because of her golden hair and the little horns on her forehead that the mythical nymphs along the river named her Keroessa.

In Greek mythology, Keroessa later bore a son to Poseidon (elder brother of Zeus and lord of all waters). This son in time became the founder of Byzantium (currently Istanbul) and named the Golden Horn, Keroessa (Chrysoceras), after his mother.

So there you have it. Now I invite you to read Flight into Darkness and learn why the Golden Gate Bridge is the focal point of the story.

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