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


To reach the site of the south tower foundation, workers constructed a temporary roadway on a timber access trestle, or wharf, from the San Francisco shore.  The dangers of the exposed location soon became apparent in 1933, when a freighter collided with the trestle. Two months later, over half of the repaired structure collapsed in a storm. Undaunted, the engineers and workers restored the structure and continued their work.

The plans called for a huge oval-shaped concrete barrier, or fender, to protect the base of the south tower from ship collisions during fog. To build the fender, workers placed the concrete through tubes underwater into wood forms, where it set.

When the fender was built up above the water level and was visible, the workers called it a “giant bathtub.” For the foundation pier, the base on which the tower would stand, workers placed concrete underwater to fill the bottom portion of the fender. After pumping out the remaining 9.4 million gallons (35.6 million liters) of seawater, workers inside the “bathtub” completed the placement of reinforcing steel and concrete.

Once the concrete work was done, the erection of the steel for the south tower began in January 1935 and was completed in just six months.


An access wharf extended from the San Francisco shore to the south tower.

The foundation's reinforced concrete being built up from the bedrock of the seafloor. The vertical tubes are the inspection wells that allowed access down through the concrete.

A cross section of the south tower fender walls and foundation. The illustration was done by Chesley Bonestell, a designer who worked on architectural details of the Chrysler Building in New York and other prominent buildings, and who later became one of the most famous illustrators of space exploration.

All images property of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District (unless otherwise indicated).

For more information -

Photos of San Francisco Pier and Tower Construction

Photos of Marin Pier and Tower Construction

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Last updated: 11.16.12