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


A long-span suspension bridge usually has tall towers. The height of the Bridge’s towers directs the tensile (pulling) forces in the main cables upward,  so that the cables can efficiently do their job of holding up the roadway deck.

The 746-foot-tall (227-meter-tall) towers, the tallest bridge towers in the world when the Bridge was completed in 1937, were constructed by lifting prefabricated steel sections into place. A temporary support for cranes (climbing derrick) was built between the two legs of each tower, and cranes on the platform lifted sections of the tower into place at that level. Then the platform with its cranes was raised up the growing tower, and the process was repeated.

The 44,000 tons (40,000 metric tons) of steel in each tower was manufactured at Bethlehem Steel plants in Pennsylvania. The steel was shipped through the Panama Canal to the San Francisco Bay.

With the towers rising higher than a 60-story building – this was no place for a person with a fear of heights.


Prefabricated tower sections arrive by barge after traveling through the Panama Canal.

The traveling platform and cranes moved upward as the towers grew taller.

It took workers up to 20 minutes to climb a series of ladders to work on the towers.

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

For more information -

Bridge Design and Construction Statistics

Photos of Marin Pier and Tower Construction

Photos of San Francisco Pier and Tower Construction

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Last updated: 11.16.12