The Kid Should See This

Why was the Golden Gate Bridge considered impossible?

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“In the mid-1930s, two familiar spires towered above the morning fog. Stretching 227 meters into the sky, these 22,000-ton towers would help support California’s Golden Gate Bridge. But since they were currently in Pennsylvania, they first had to be dismantled, packaged, and shipped piece by piece over 4,500 kilometers away.

“Moving the bridge’s towers across a continent was just one of the challenges facing Charles Ellis and Joseph Strauss, the project’s lead engineers…”

Why was California’s Golden Gate Bridge considered an “impossible” build by so many engineers of the era? And how was it built in the face of 96-kilometer-per-hour winds in a foggy, earthquake-prone region of the country?

This TED-Ed lesson, The Impossible Bridge by Alex Gendler, directed by Anton Bogaty, shares the history behind this International Orange icon.

cantilever bridge design
Plus, a few design details from Wikipedia:

“Strauss’s initial design proposal (two double cantilever spans linked by a central suspension segment) was unacceptable from a visual standpoint. The final graceful suspension design was conceived and championed by Leon Moisseiff, the engineer of the Manhattan Bridge in New York City…

Irving Morrow, a relatively unknown residential architect, designed the overall shape of the bridge towers, the lighting scheme, and Art Deco elements, such as the tower decorations, streetlights, railing, and walkways. The famous International Orange color was Morrow’s personal selection, winning out over other possibilities, including the US Navy’s suggestion that it be painted with black and yellow stripes to ensure visibility by passing ships.”

International Orange

β€’Β Resources for Educators & Students at

Watch these related bridge engineering videos next:
β€’Β Every Bridge For Every Situation, Explained By an Engineer
β€’Β How to make Leonardo da Vinci’s self-supporting bridge
β€’Β Red PaperBridge, a temporary installation by Steve Messam
β€’Β Spaghetti bridges, a DIY engineering activity for kids (and adults)

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