The Sydney Harbour Bridge is considered the world's greatest arch bridge and is one of Australia's best known and photographed landmarks. An engineering masterpiece, the bridge represented a pivotal step in the development of modern Sydney and an important part of the technical revolution of the 1930s.
A bridge to span the harbour
The idea of building a bridge that spanned Sydney Harbour from the north to south was discussed as early as 1815, but it wasn't until 1900 that a design competition was announced. The competition failed to produce a successful design.
After the First World War, a general design for the Sydney Harbour Bridge was prepared by Dr JJC Bradfield and in 1922 the New South Wales Government awarded the construction contract to English firm Dorman Long and Co.
Bradfield's design positioned the Bridge as a key element in an integrated transport system including an extensive network of roads, and the rail and tram systems.
Building the Harbour Bridge
Construction started in 1924 and took 1400 men eight years to build at a cost of £4.2 million. The opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932 was a momentous occasion, drawing crowds of nearly 1 million people from the city, regional centres and interstate.
The NSW Premier at the time, the Honourable John T Lang, officially declared the Bridge open, but before he could cut the ribbon, Captain Francis de Groot of the New Guard, disguised as a military horseman, slashed it with his sword. He claimed that the bridge should have been opened by member of the royal family. The incident has become a part of Australian folklore and a symbol of the perceived national character trait of rebellion against authority.
Today the bridge is often the centre of community ceremonial and celebratory occasions.
Experience the bridge
From the Bridge visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the Sydney Opera House. These two outstanding examples of our national heritage represent Australia's most renowned iconic landmarks.
The Bridge Climb started in 1998 and attracts tourists eager to climb this magnificent monument for both the challenge and breathtaking views.
The dimensions of the finished bridge are:
- Height of top of arch – 134 metres above sea level
- Width of deck: 49 metres
- Clearance for shipping: 49 metres
- Total length of bridge: 1149 metres (including approach spans)
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