Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sydney Harbour Bridge In History and Attractions Tourism

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. Known by locals as the ‘Coathanger’, the bridge celebrated its 75th birthday in 2007, with its official opening in March 1932.

Discussions about building a bridge from the northern to the southern shore of Sydney Harbour had started
as early as 1815. It took some time for this to become a reality with design submissions invited in 1900. All designs were deemed inappropriate or unsatisfactory for one reason or another and the idea eventually lost momentum. However, after World War One more serious plans were made, with a general design for the Sydney Harbour Bridge prepared by Dr JJC Bradfield. The New South Wales Government invited worldwide tenders for the construction of the bridge in 1922 and the contract was awarded to English firm Dorman Long and Co of Middlesbrough, England.

Bradfield’s design involved more than the bridge, it was the key element in an integrated transport system
including an extensive network of rail and roadways leading to the bridge. These in turn were incorporated
into the broader Sydney road, rail and tram system. Construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge construction
started in 1924 and took 1400 men eight years to build at a cost of £4.2 million. Six million hand driven rivets and 53 000 tonnes of steel were used in its construction. The construction of the bridge represented a new era for Australians. An important part of the technical revolution of the 1930s, the bridge was seen as evidence of Australia’s industrial maturity.

The opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was a momentous occasion, drawing an estimated one million
people. The ceremony was attended by almost the entire population of Sydney, as well as huge numbers from
around New South Wales, and thousands from interstate.

The New South Wales Premier at the time, the Honourable John T Lang, officiated at the opening and
officially declared the bridge open. However, before he could cut the ribbon to open the bridge, Captain Francis de Groot of the New Guard, disguised as a military horseman, slashed it with his sword, believing the only person to open the bridge should be a 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. It was part of JCC Bradfield’s vision for the bridge that it be used “at times of national rejoicing”. Over the years since its opening community ceremonial and celebratory occasions have regularly centred on Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Bridge Climb started in 1998 and attracts tourists and locals alike, eager to climb this magnificent
monument for both the challenge and the remarkable views. From the bridge visitors can also enjoy breathtaking views of the Sydney Opera House, another of Australia’s iconic landmarks.


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