Exhibit Area 1
(Plaza area)
Welcome Sign [main directory]
How the Bridge Spans the Golden Gate
Bridge Aesthetics - Art Deco on a Grand Scale
Tall and Strong - The Bridge Towers
Steel, Fog, Salt, Rust, and Paint

Exhibit Area 2
(near flagpole)
How the Bridge Vibrates

Exhibit Area 3
(West side of Bridge near underpass)
Historic Preservation: Lattice Strut Retrofit
Historic Preservation: Isolator Seismic Retrofit

Exhibit Area 4
(inside Battery area)
History: Design and Construction of the Bridge
Suspension Cable Tension vs. Tower Height
Battery Lancaster - Defending the Golden Gate

Exhibit Area 5
(along bike path to lower parking lot)
Bridge Deck Aerodynamics
Bridge Deck Torsional Resistance Retrofit
Wind Speed and Wind Pressure

Exhibit Area 6
(near Pavillion)
LIFETILES: animated construction of the Bridge
Braille / Tactile Model of the Bridge

Project Partners

Golden Gate Bridge,
Highway and Transporation District


Consortium of Universities for Research
in Earthquake Engineering

Main Menu : Exhibit Area 4

History of the Design and Construction of the Bridge


One of the greatest construction challenges took place underwater. The south tower was located more than 1,100 feet (335 meters) from the San Francisco shore. To build the south tower structures, divers played a critical role descending up to 110 feet (33 meters) into the tumultuous waters of the Golden Gate Strait. They placed dynamite charges and removed loose material down to bedrock with high-pressure hoses. Later, they descended to guide the positioning of the forms and funnels used to place the concrete for the south tower fender.

Divers worked in water that was dark, murky and cold, and only when the tide changed and the usually strong currents lessened, which occurred four times in a day. Portable air tanks for diving had not yet been invented. A diver’s life depended on the continuous pumping of air through a long hose to the surface.

Image shown above courtesy of the San Francisco Historical Society - Huggins Collection - CHS.Huggins.002


Divers in their heavy gear, prior to putting on helmets.

Workers load explosive charges into a framework that is then lowered to the seafloor and positioned by divers.

If a diver surfaced too quickly, air bubbles could be released into the bloodstream, a condition called "the bends." Decompression chambers were kept nearby just in case.

All images courtesy of the San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library (unless otherwise indicated).

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Last updated: 11.16.12