The Bold Italic | A Look Inside the Life of a Golden Gate Bridge Painter
For those who live in San Francisco, the Golden Gate Bridge is a symbol for home, a gateway from the bay to the vast Pacific Ocean. For those who visit, it’s an iconic landmark to witness and check off their bucket list. But for the small, tight-knit team of Golden Gate painters, it’s an office, a familiar place they report to every day and know as well as (if not better than) their own streets.
The bridge’s 35 professional painters know every nook and cranny, the way the rivets puncture the steel and the extent of the corrosion they constantly battle. They know the personalities, including the waving joggers who’ve run by on cue each morning and the man who walks the length of the bridge each day with an American flag. They know moments of chaos too: the protests, the suicides, the daredevil acts.
Brian Russell has reported for work at the bridge day in and day out — braving thick fog and high-speed winds for the past 23 years — to paint the bridge its famous International Orange hue. I met with him recently on a sunny day with a crisp, blue sky and not much fog, the kind of day painters hope for.