Cable-Stayed Bridge Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Nick Rogers
Cable-stayed bridges are one of the most elegant designs for a bridge. They have a modern look and feel, and use less steel than their counterparts. Learn all about their history and how they work in this lesson.

Bridges allow us to cross physical obstacles like rivers, which makes our lives more efficient. Did you know that there are many different kinds of bridges? You may have driven over them without even realizing it! Cantilever, beam, arch, and truss are all different types of bridges. In this article, you will learn about one of the most efficient and beautiful designs for a bridge: the cable-stayed bridge.

Cable-supported Bridges

What is a cable-stayed bridge, and how does it work? Along the bridge are many towers (sometimes called pylons). Each tower has cables that connect it to the bridge. These cables exert a tension that keeps the bridge in place. Compare this to a suspension bridge, which has cables that run from each tower to the next one, and secondary cables that connect to the bridge itself. In the cable-stayed bridge, the cables deliver all of the weight of the bridge to the towers, and therefore, the bridge doesn't need to be anchored to the shores.

Cable-stayed Bridge Schematic

The cable-stayed design uses less steel cable than a suspension bridge, and is faster and easier to build. In the schematic, you can see how the forces keep the bridge up. The cables experience tension, and the towers experience compression. The cables pull down on the towers, and the towers must be built to resist. The deck of the bridge can experience both tension and compression forces (usually one on the top and the other on the bottom).

History of the Cable-stayed Bridge

The cable-stayed bridge was first described in an engineering book in 1595, but it wasn't until much later that they were first built. Engineers experimented with cable-stayed elements on both the Albert Bridge in London (built in 1873) and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City (built in 1883). While these hybrid constructions used cables to increase bridge stability, they did not rely entirely on cables.

World War II resulted in the destruction of many of Europe's bridges. After the war, they needed to be rebuilt, and cost was a genuine concern. While bridges had been bombed, their foundations often survived. Reusing these foundations in new cable-stayed bridges was a great solution. Cable-stayed bridges were an affordable and efficient option because they use less steel, which was expensive and hard to find. For this reason, they became popular in Europe long before making their way to America.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account