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


When asked how long the Golden Gate Bridge would last, Chief Engineer Joseph Strauss replied, "Forever." The Bridge was designed to be strong and durable, but to make it a lasting monument requires continual maintenance and improvements.

Since its opening in 1937, the Bridge has had many upgrades and retrofits:

  • bracing across the bottom of the deck, to make the deck twist less in high winds

  • a portion of the roadway deck was replaced with a lighter-weight structural layer

  • all of the 500 vertical lines you see on the bridge, the suspender ropes, were replaced one by one

  • seismic retrofits have been installed from one end of the Bridge to the other

  • some of the original riveted-together X-braced struts as seen in the arch portion of the Bridge over Fort Point have been replaced with higher-strength pieces of steel

  • prevention of rust goes on constantly; the signature International Orange color is always used for re-painting the historic structure to preserve its appearance

  • motion-measurement sensors have been installed throughout the Bridge, monitoring how it responds to wind, earthquakes, traffic loads, and temperature changes

The staff needed to maintain the Bridge includes engineers, ironworkers, electricians, and painters, to name a few. The workforce of the Bridge take great pride in their role in maintaining not only an essential transportation route but also a famous and beloved landmark.


To examine the condition of the wires that make up the main cables, Bridge workers remove the outer wire cover to expose the 27,572 parallel wires, and insert wedges to inspect the inner wires.

Electricians need a lift to reach and repair the Bridge lights.

A harness and latch hooks that secure workers to the Bridge are required safety equipment. This ironworker is wearing his safety harness while tightening a bolt near the top of one of the Bridge towers.

This paint rig, also known as a sky box, is about to travel up the suspender ropes for workers to apply a finish coat of paint over the primer.

View inside a sky box where suspender cables receive a coat of paint.

Rust and old paint are removed before the zinc-rich primer is applied, followed by the top coat of signature International Orange paint.

A new support under an approach at the north end of the Bridge replaces an original one and includes some modern seismic engineering features.

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

For more information -

The Official Program of the Opening Fiesta

Golden Gate Bridge Opening Fiesta Week, May 27-June 2, 1937

Ground Breaking Celebration

Opening Day of the Golden Gate Bridge [video]

Diagram of the Golden Gate Bridge with Seismic Retrofit Designs Indicated

Key Dates in Golden Gate Bridge District history

Sign of the Times: World Events during Bridge Construction

Maintenance and Operations

Painting the Golden Gate Bridge

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Last updated: 11.16.12