Project Management

Exhibit Developers

Website Content Consultant
History of Research
Evaluators & Advisors
Funding support provided by:
NSF Logo
The National Science Foundation


CUREE Projects
Membership Information
Faculty Position Openings
Member Database
CUREE Newsletters

Projects : Golden Gate Bridge Exhibit

Golden Gate Bridge Outdoor Exhibition


How a Suspension Bridge Works

Engineers call it a load path – the path taken by the loads (e.g. the weight of the structure and what it carries, the wind forces on it) as they flow through the structure to reach the foundation. A suspension bridge load path is basically simple, but is not apparent to non-engineers. The vertical suspender ropes pull the weight of the deck up to the main cables. The main cables carry it to the tops of the towers. The weight goes down the two towers to the foundation. The ends of the cables must be anchored to resist the tension (pulling) force that acts horizontally, inwardly, and vertically, upwardly.

STATUS: Exhibit currently installed near the Battery exhibit area.

[read more about this exhibit]

Original design of the Suspension Bridge exhibit sign.

Note the inclusion of the various other famous bridges of the world (an idea eventually considered for its own exhibit).

Original concept by Reitherman

A revised version which includes the originally planned Art Deco styled border.

Note the inclusion of the placeholders for the lift doors. It was originally envisioned to have the one image spread across three separate doors.

Revised concept by Reitherman

Revised version by the Hunt Design based on the NPS park signs.

This version was neither completed, nor ultimately used because it was felt that the material was not presented in a clear or logical order.

With much input from the project advisors, and engineering specialist, this version was produced combining the NPS layout style, with a cleaner overall layout of information.

Title changed to: How the Bridge Spans the Golden Gate

Original version of door panel graphic w/ animals.

Note: This version was later changed when t was pointed out that the tug-of-war pose did not match the load path lesson described in the text.

Modified version of door panel graphic w/ animals.
A family visiting the Bridge stop to interact with the Suspension Bridge exhibit.
Here Bob Reitherman talks about the layout design with an audience of civil engineering professors.

MPEG : 46 MB

Total time: 1:11

Funding for the project has been provided by the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, National Science Foundation. Dr. Al DeSena is the NSF project officer for this award. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

All images are the property of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and cannot be re-used without its permission. Contact Mary Currie, Public Affairs Director,

© CUREE. All rights reserved.
Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering
last updated 05.27.14