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The Waldo Grade is the name of a hill before the Golden Gate Bridge leading into San Francisco when traveling southbound on U.S. Route 101, and leading to Marin City when traveling northbound. This grade is generally defined as the stretch of roadway between the Spencer Offramp and Marin City, within the city of Sausalito. This grade is traversed by a full freeway multi-lane highway facility. The highest elevation on this freeway section is at the Waldo Tunnel. This portion of U.S. Highway 101 is an important link in surface transportation connecting the city of San Francisco to Marin County and the North Bay. Nearby locations to the Waldo Grade include: the city of Sausalito, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Bay Model, The Marine Mammal Center and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. In 1982, some of the earth from a landslide at the Waldo Grade was transported to Mill Valley to create a building pad for the Shelter Point office complex.
Waldo Tunnel is the unofficial name of a tunnel on U.S. Route 101 between the Golden Gate Bridge and Sausalito. It is named after Waldo Point along Richardson Bay between Sausalito and Mill Valley. Waldo Point is named after William Waldo, who ran unsuccessfully as a Whig candidate for governor of California in 1853.
The first bore of the tunnel was completed in 1937 and the second in 1954. The archways at the ends of the bores were painted in rainbows by a Caltrans employee, Robert Halligan, and for this reason the tunnel is occasionally referred to as the Rainbow Tunnel.
As San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge are hidden from the northern approach of Route 101 by hills, it is likely that some portion of visitors receive their first view of the city and the bridge upon exiting the tunnel's southbound bore.
The tunnel is featured in the Clint Eastwood film Dirty Harry and the Humphrey Bogart film Dark Passage. The honking of horns in the tunnel, often done deliberately for the sake of hearing the echoes, was the inspiration for harmonicist Bruce "Creeper" Kurnow's composition Honk If You Love Harmonica.
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