New sidewalk railing slats installed along the Golden Gate Bridge earlier this week lit up the internet as concerned San Francisco residents took to Twitter to ask why a ghostly chime was suddenly ringing out for miles around. The additions were put in place by the city to cut down on the bridge’s wind resistance but had the unintended (or was it?) side effect of funneling high-speed wind over the strait into a droning tone on June 5.
Of course, those who can’t see the bridge were even more confused. “Can someone explain me why is this eerie sound has been going on for an hour in #SanFrancisco?” reads one tweet from near the Presidio, accompanied by a video of a low, ominous moan.
— Alberto Martinez A (@betogilardino) June 5, 2020
“THANK YOU!!!! Here’s the sound from Land’s End,” reads a reply, preceding a clip with what could only be described as ambient background music from a video game. While it might seem like a nice change of pace, videos from those on the bridge paint a different picture, one that one YouTube user described as “deafening.”
THANK YOU!!!! Here’s the sound from Land’s End pic.twitter.com/JjEWy6zrlX
— chilibrianno (@chilibrianno) June 6, 2020
“We knew going into the handrail replacement that the Bridge would sing during exceptionally high winds from the west, as we saw yesterday,” Paolo Cosulich-Schwartz, spokesman for the Golden Gate Bridge District, told ABC on June 6. True to Cosulich-Schwartz’s word, evidence that the new slats might funnel the wind into instrumental tones can be seen as early as this 2017 YouTube video, where bridge engineers traveled to Guelph, Ontario, to view wind tunnel simulations of their upgrades on a model Golden Gate Bridge.
San Francisco residents should get used to it, as the additions to the bridge’s west side are “necessary to ensure the safety and structural integrity of the bridge for generations to come,” added Cosulich-Schwartz.