Design credit for Golden Gate Bridge reassigned





The Golden Gate Bridge district issued a formal report on 70 years of stewardship of the famous bridge Thursday -- and decided to right an old wrong by giving major credit for the design of the bridge to an engineer it had ignored.

The engineer was Charles Ellis, a University of Illinois professor of engineering. He did much of the technical and theoretical work that built the bridge but until Thursday got none of the credit.

The bridge district always considered chief engineer Joseph Strauss a visionary and tireless promoter as the father of the Golden Gate Bridge, which is generally considered one of the greatest engineering feats of the 20th century.

Though Ellis did much of the design work and thousands of mathematical calculations necessary to build the bridge and developed the specifications and contract forms, Strauss fired him before construction began. The reasons remain unclear. Strauss went on to claim credit for the bridge, and Ellis remained a college professor.

After Strauss died in 1938, the district erected a statue of him at the San Francisco end of the bridge. Thursday, it conducted a press conference under the statue to introduce a new book called "The Golden Gate Bridge, Report of the Chief Engineer, Volume II.''

As recently as 1994, the district refused to give Ellis major credit for the bridge. It said Ellis was merely one of Strauss' consultants or assistants.

But the district said new evidence had surfaced, and now "the record clearly demonstrates that he deserves significant credit for the suspension bridge design we see and cherish today.''




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