How Many Bridges Are In San Francisco? A Detailed Look At All The Iconic Spans

San Francisco is defined by its hills and waterways. This gorgeous coastal city is surrounded on three sides by water, which means San Franciscans rely on bridges for transportation and iconic views. If you’re wondering exactly how many bridges grace the San Francisco cityscape, read on for a deep dive into all the spans that connect the city.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: there are around 15 major vehicle bridges within San Francisco city limits. This includes both historic landmarks and lesser-known local bridges over smaller thoroughfares.

A Brief History of Bridge Building in San Francisco

San Francisco is known for its iconic bridges that have become symbols of the city’s beauty and innovation. The history of bridge building in San Francisco is a testament to the city’s determination to connect its neighborhoods and overcome geographical challenges.

The Gold Rush Led to the City’s First Bridges

During the California Gold Rush in the mid-1800s, San Francisco experienced a rapid population growth as people flocked to the city in search of fortune. As the city expanded, the need for bridges became apparent to connect different parts of the city and facilitate transportation.

The first bridge in San Francisco, the Mission Bay Bridge, was completed in 1857. It connected the city to the neighborhood of Mission Bay and served as a vital link for trade and commerce. The success of the Mission Bay Bridge paved the way for future bridge-building projects in the city.

Connecting Neighborhoods Over Landfill

As San Francisco continued to grow, the city faced the challenge of connecting neighborhoods that were separated by bodies of water or difficult terrain. To overcome this, the city began extensive landfill projects to create new land that could be used for bridge construction.

One notable example is the Golden Gate Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Marin County. The bridge was built over the Golden Gate Strait, a narrow waterway that separates the Pacific Ocean from the San Francisco Bay.

The construction of the Golden Gate Bridge involved the creation of artificial islands and extensive engineering feats to ensure its stability.

Building Iconic Suspension Bridges

San Francisco is home to some of the most famous suspension bridges in the world. Suspension bridges are known for their impressive engineering design, which involves suspending the bridge deck from cables attached to towers.

The most iconic suspension bridge in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge. Spanning over 1.7 miles, the Golden Gate Bridge is not only a feat of engineering but also a symbol of the city. Its distinctive orange color and elegant design attract millions of visitors each year.

Another notable suspension bridge in San Francisco is the Bay Bridge, which connects the city to Oakland. The Bay Bridge is actually a complex of bridges, including a suspension span, a cantilever span, and a tunnel.

This architectural marvel serves as a crucial transportation link between San Francisco and the East Bay.

Famous San Francisco Bridges

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge is undoubtedly the most famous and iconic bridge in San Francisco. Stretching across the Golden Gate Strait, this suspension bridge connects the city of San Francisco to Marin County.

With its distinctive red-orange color and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge has become a symbol of the city and a must-visit landmark for tourists from around the world. Completed in 1937, it spans approximately 1.7 miles and stands as a testament to engineering marvel.

Bay Bridge

The Bay Bridge, officially known as the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, is another prominent bridge in San Francisco. This complex structure consists of two main sections: the western span connecting San Francisco to Yerba Buena Island, and the eastern span connecting Yerba Buena Island to Oakland.

The Bay Bridge plays a crucial role in connecting the city to the East Bay, facilitating transportation and commerce. It offers stunning views of the city’s skyline and is an important part of the region’s transportation infrastructure.

San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge

The San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge, commonly referred to as the Bay Bridge, is yet another well-known bridge in the San Francisco Bay Area. This bridge links the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, spanning approximately 4.5 miles across the bay.

It consists of two main sections: the western span, which opened in 1936, and the eastern span, which was replaced in 2013. The Bay Bridge serves as a vital transportation link, carrying thousands of vehicles daily between the two cities.

Other Well-Known Spans

In addition to the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge, San Francisco is home to several other notable bridges. These include the Richmond–San Rafael Bridge, which connects the city to Marin County; the San Mateo–Hayward Bridge, which links San Francisco to the East Bay; and the Dumbarton Bridge, connecting the San Francisco Peninsula to the East Bay.

Each of these bridges has its own unique characteristics and contributes to the overall connectivity of the region.

For more information about the iconic bridges in San Francisco, you can visit the official websites of the Golden Gate Bridge ( and the Bay Bridge (

Obscure and Little-Known San Francisco Bridges

While San Francisco is well-known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and Bay Bridge, the city is also home to several lesser-known bridges that are equally fascinating. These obscure bridges offer unique perspectives of the city’s landscape and provide interesting insights into its history.

Let’s take a closer look at some of these hidden gems:

3rd Street Bridge

The 3rd Street Bridge, also known as the Lefty O’Doul Bridge, is a small pedestrian bridge located in the South of Market neighborhood. It connects the Yerba Buena Gardens to the Moscone Center and is named after Lefty O’Doul, a famous San Francisco baseball player.

Although it may not be as grand as the city’s other bridges, it holds a special place in the hearts of locals.

7th Street Bridge

The 7th Street Bridge is an important transportation link in San Francisco. Located near the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood, it provides a crucial connection between the Bayview and Potrero Hill areas.

This bridge plays a significant role in easing traffic congestion and improving accessibility for residents and commuters.

16th Street Pedestrian Bridge

The 16th Street Pedestrian Bridge, also known as the 16th Street Bridge Park, is a unique bridge that combines functionality with artistry. Located in the Mission District, this bridge serves as both a pedestrian walkway and an outdoor community space.

It features beautiful murals and vibrant artwork, creating a visually appealing and engaging experience for all who cross it.

23rd Street over Islais Creek

The bridge at 23rd Street over Islais Creek is a lesser-known gem in San Francisco. Located in the industrial area of the city, this bridge provides a vital connection for freight and commercial traffic.

It may not be frequented by tourists, but it plays a crucial role in the city’s infrastructure and economy.

Mariposa Street over Islais Creek

Another lesser-known bridge over Islais Creek is located on Mariposa Street. This bridge connects the Dogpatch neighborhood to the Potrero Hill area and serves as an important transportation route for residents and businesses.

It offers unique views of the creek and its surroundings, making it a hidden gem for those who venture across it.

Exploring these obscure and little-known bridges in San Francisco allows you to discover a different side of the city and appreciate the diverse range of structures it has to offer. So, next time you find yourself in the Bay Area, don’t forget to venture off the beaten path and explore these hidden gems!

Historic and Architecturally Significant Bridges

San Francisco is renowned for its stunning bridges that not only provide essential transportation links but also serve as iconic landmarks. These bridges are not only functional but also hold historical and architectural significance.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the noteworthy bridges in the city.

Broadway Tunnel West Approach

The Broadway Tunnel West Approach is an impressive bridge that spans across the Broadway Tunnel, connecting the neighborhoods of Russian Hill and Pacific Heights. This bridge offers breathtaking views of the cityscape and the iconic Golden Gate Bridge.

It is not only a vital transportation link but also a popular spot for tourists and locals alike to capture memorable photographs.

Duboce Avenue Tunnel East Approach

The Duboce Avenue Tunnel East Approach is another notable bridge in San Francisco. It serves as an entry point to the Duboce Park, an urban oasis in the heart of the city. This bridge combines both functionality and aesthetics, with its elegant design and picturesque surroundings.

It provides pedestrians and cyclists a safe and convenient way to access the park while appreciating the beauty of the surrounding area.

Kezar Drive Pedestrian Bridge

The Kezar Drive Pedestrian Bridge is a remarkable example of modern bridge architecture. It spans over Kezar Drive, offering pedestrians and cyclists a convenient pathway to access Kezar Stadium and the adjacent Golden Gate Park.

This bridge not only enhances the connectivity of the area but also adds to the visual appeal of the surroundings. Its sleek design and efficient use of space make it an impressive addition to the city’s landscape.

980 Freeway Pedestrian Bridge

The 980 Freeway Pedestrian Bridge, also known as the Mandela Parkway Pedestrian Bridge, is a unique bridge that connects West Oakland and Downtown Oakland. Although not located directly in San Francisco, it is worth mentioning due to its architectural significance.

This bridge showcases a creative use of materials and design elements, creating an aesthetically pleasing structure that also prioritizes pedestrian safety.

These are just a few examples of the historic and architecturally significant bridges in San Francisco. Each bridge not only serves its purpose as a transportation link but also adds to the charm and character of the city.

Exploring these bridges can be an exciting and enriching experience, allowing visitors to appreciate the beauty of San Francisco’s infrastructure.

The Final Count: How Many Bridges in San Francisco?

San Francisco, known for its stunning skyline and picturesque waterfront, is home to several iconic bridges that have become symbols of the city’s charm and beauty. From the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge to the lesser-known but equally impressive spans, this article takes a detailed look at the number of bridges that grace the city.

Vehicle Bridges: 15

When it comes to vehicle bridges, San Francisco boasts an impressive total of fifteen. These bridges serve as crucial transportation links, connecting various neighborhoods and facilitating the flow of traffic across the city.

The most famous among them is undoubtedly the Golden Gate Bridge, which spans the Golden Gate Strait and connects San Francisco to Marin County. Its distinctive red-orange color and iconic design make it a beloved landmark not just in San Francisco but around the world.

Aside from the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is also home to other notable vehicle bridges. The San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, also known as the Bay Bridge, is another prominent structure that connects San Francisco to Oakland.

With its multiple lanes and stunning views of the bay, it is a vital transportation artery for the region. Other notable vehicle bridges in San Francisco include the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, and the Dumbarton Bridge, among others.

Pedestrian-Only Bridges: 5+

In addition to its vehicle bridges, San Francisco offers several pedestrian-only bridges that provide pedestrians and cyclists with safe and convenient routes across the city. While the exact number of pedestrian bridges is not known, it is estimated to be at least five or more.

These bridges not only serve as functional connections but also offer breathtaking views of the city’s skyline and natural surroundings.

One of the most popular pedestrian bridges in San Francisco is the Golden Gate Bridge’s pedestrian walkway. This dedicated path, separated from vehicle traffic, allows pedestrians to stroll across the iconic bridge while taking in the panoramic vistas of the bay and the city.

Other notable pedestrian bridges include the Bay Bridge’s bicycle and pedestrian path, the Lyon Street Steps, and the 16th Avenue Tiled Steps.

Whether you’re a visitor or a resident, exploring the bridges of San Francisco is a must-do activity. Each bridge has its own unique charm and story, offering a glimpse into the city’s rich history and architectural prowess.

So, the next time you find yourself in the City by the Bay, be sure to take a stroll across one of its many bridges and experience the magic for yourself.


With its iconic suspension bridges, landfill connectors, and little-known local spans, San Francisco is truly a bridge lover’s paradise. The city by the bay contains around 15 bridges for vehicles and over 5 pedestrian footbridges, each with its own unique history and architecture.

The next time you’re in San Francisco, try seeking out some of the lesser-known and historic bridges to appreciate the full scope of the city’s bridge building legacy.

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