How tower cranes are erected

Surely you’ve seen a crane at least once in your life, especially if you’re near an urban area with lots of construction. If you don’t know what a crane is, it’s a tall machine used to lift heavy objects to high places using a system of pulleys. They’re amazing machines if you think about it.

Tower crane

Tower crane in Vancouver, Canada. Photo by Nebrot.

The thing is, there’s no crane when you leave for work, and when you come back, there is, leaving us all puzzled. How did the construction workers get the crane up so fast?

I have a proposition:


Yup. That sounds about right.

No, but seriously, the real method is just as good. I thought my friend was joking when he said it, and I’m pretty sure he was, but he was correct. Cranes build themselves!

Crane Building Itself by brianfleming [YouTube]

The crew uses a smaller mobile crane to assemble the initial components of the crane, then the crane builds itself up to the desired height.

There’s yet another mind-boggling question that’s unanswered: with no support wires, why don’t these cranes topple over? You have this really tall structure with a relatively small base, and if it didn’t have a good way of securing itself, it would certainly topple with the slightest wind.

Can you take a guess? It’s a really simple solution.

Weeks before the crane arrives, the construction workers pour and set a large concrete base on which to set the crane. When the crane arrives, they bolt it into the base with really large bolts.

Base of a crane

The crane is bolted into a large concrete base.

Cranes are simply fascinating. They help us lift large and heavy objects to high places, all without toppling over. Everything from their construction to their operation is just mind-boggling. You’re free to think that this is all the work of aliens, of course, but I think that the tower crane is one of the best specimens for showcasing some of the amazing things we humans are capable of.


  1. I’ve actually seen this in person. Back in my homeland, they were building a new condo (I think) and I saw the big railing being put into the crane itself. It took a while to watch, but it was worth it. Quite interesting how this sort of ingenuity works.

  2. shelbiwan said:


  3. aa said:

    this is a super random post lol. did you just wake up one day and said, im gonna blog about cranes.
    is this a 2-part series where the next one will be about crane-the bird kind? ;)

    • You’re right, it is fairly random. I came across the video earlier this week and I just had to make that “aliens” remark.
      I wasn’t planning on making a follow-up post, but now that you mention it, I just might.

      • … Now that I think of it, I might not.

        Title: How cranes are erected
        Content: No, I’m not going there.

      • Actually, someone suggested making a post about folding paper cranes. I think that might be a good one to do.

  4. aa said:

    hey thats a great idea. you should post it in your tamaguchi website lol.

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