Innovations  

A Structural Icon Boasts 80 Years of History

The iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrates its 80th birthday today.
 The Sydney Harbour Bridge
 
 

Birthdays can be considerably disheartening to some but, for others, they are a symbol of standing the test of time.  There is no better example of this symbol than one of the most iconic landmarks in the world, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, as she celebrates her 80th birthday today. 

Long known as the “Coathanger” because of its arch based construction, to residents and world travelers alike, the Sydney Harbor Bridge is a spectacular reminder of the city’s charm and vitality.  Opening on March 19th, 1932, the bridge is the largest (although not longest) steel-arch bridge in the world.  Construction began in 1925 with over 14,000 workers lovingly constructing her beauty over the 8 years that followed.

Born from the mind of Dr. JJC Bradfield, who is considered the ‘Father of the Bridge’, the contractor’s consulting engineer, Ralph Freeman, carried out the elaborate design and the acute plans for the erection process.  Known for their fierce competition with each other, and a very heated disagreement about whose idea the bridge originally was, the two men endured a bitter rivalry.  Mr. Freeman later received knighthood for his contribution to this spectacular site.

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It is estimated that up to 1 million people gathered in the city to pay tribute for the long awaited grand opening on March 19, 1932.  The opening itself became a much talked about event as The Premier, Jack Lang, went to cut the ceremonial ribbon to commemorate the opening of the bridge, at the same time a Captain Francis de Groot moved through the crowd on horse and slashed the ribbon with his sword.  Captain de Groot felt that the bridge should have been represented by the people rather than royalty.  He was later arrested and convicted for his offensive behavior. 

Today, The Sydney Harbour Bridge hosts more than 160,000 vehicles every weekday and is now a regular tourist attraction for travelers who wish to scale the iconic structure.  There are tours leaving every ten minutes for a three and a half hour experience with a two hour walk to the top of the arch.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an engineering phenomenon.  The impressive overpass dominates the harbour skyline and represents human design and innovation at its best.

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