How Tower Cranes Work

By: Marshall Brain  | 

Why Don't Tower Cranes Fall Over?

When you look at a tall tower crane, the whole thing seems outrageous — why don't these structures fall over, especially since they have no support wires of any kind?

The first element of the tower crane's stability is a large concrete pad that the construction company pours several weeks before the crane arrives. This pad typically measures 30 feet by 30 feet by 4 feet (10 x 10 x 1.3 meters) and weighs 400,000 pounds (182,000 kg) — these are the pad measurements for the crane shown here. Large anchor bolts embedded deep into this pad support the base of the crane:


So these cranes are essentially bolted to the ground to ensure their stability. In the next section, you'll learn how tower cranes "grow."