What Are the Different Types of Bridges?

Instructor: Matthew Helmer

Matt is an upcoming Ph.D. graduate and archaeologist. He has taught Anthropology, Geography, and Art History at the university level.

Bridges have been around for thousands of years, and are one of humankind's oldest architectural wonders. In this lesson, you will learn a bit about the long history of bridges, different types of bridges, and popular bridge types we see today.

Introduction to the History of Bridges

We're all obviously familiar with bridges, but how long have they been around, and what contributions have bridges made to architectural history? Bridges are some of the most important human-made structures because they allow us to cross water, rough terrain, valleys, and other obstacles. Early humans probably got bridge-making concepts from natural bridges, such as logs that had naturally fallen across streams, or rock outcrops. Some of the earliest bridges mimicked natural log bridges by using timbers, vines, and mud mortar to cross small spaces. These are known as beam bridges. Beam bridges are also made of concrete and steel, and are still used today. Over time, bridge technology flourished in different cultures around the world, leading up to the industrial wonders we recognize today.

Suspension Bridges

Inca suspension bridge
Inca bridge
suspension bridgesCable-stayed bridges

Arch Bridges

Pont du Gard bridge
Pont du Gard
arch bridge

Cantilever and Truss Bridges

Cantilever bridge technology
Cantilever Bridge
cantilever bridgeTruss bridges

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