The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco Now Sounds Like a David Lynch Movie


Eerie sound coming from bridge explained by new bicycle-path railings that “make music” as the wind passes through.

The Golden Gate Bridge has been turned into the world’s largest reed instrument. (Wiki Commons)

Recent changes to bicycle-path railings on San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge have brought an interesting development: the bridge started “singing.”

The unearthly sound has prompted various reactions from locals. 

“Can someone explain me why is this eerie sound has been going on for an hour in #SanFrancisco #presidio #sound #eerie #whatisthis #2020SoFar #2020BingoCard,” read the typical Twitter post.

In fact, the sound is the result of new sidewalk railing slats, just installed, meant to better handle the wind. We’ve all heard the wind creating a hum when passing through certain open spaces. Now this is exactly how all reed instruments work. And since the bridge spans a very windy gap across the Bay, it is now effectively functioning as a giant orange wheezing kazoo, the website of local NPR radio station KQED notes.

City officials offered an explanation for the sound, which can be heard several miles away, according to reports by locals.

Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz of the Bridge District said in a statement: “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.”

Cosulich-Schwartz added: “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.” Those tests, seen in a video here, showed that the bridge “would begin to hum” when air passed through it more freely.

“We knew going into the handrail replacement that the bridge would sing during exceptionally high winds from the west, as we saw yesterday. We are pleased to see the new railing is allowing wind to flow more smoothly across the bridge.”

And it looks like the strange sound is here to stay. According to Cosulich-Schwartz, the aerodynamic retrofit, on the western, bike-lane side of the bridge, is “necessary to ensure the safety and structural integrity of the bridge for generations to come.”

Some musicians have already started to adapt to hearing the sound constantly.

You are from San Franicsco and want to tell the city that, like, you dig Brian Eno and everything, but you don’t really need to hear ambient drones day and night? Here’s how to contact the right people.

Sources: 1, 2

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