The Sydney Harbour Bridge is iconic to Australia. Many a snapshot has been taken by locals and tourists alike in admiration of this engineering beauty. Completed in 1932, the harbour bridge is also a major artery that connects Sydney CBD with the North Shore and all traffic north of Sydney. Here are some interesting facts about this bridge that, together with the Opera House, identifies Sydney and Australia with the rest of the world:
1 When the bridge was inaugurated on 19 March 1932, the ceremonial ribbon cutting was supposed to be done by NSW Premier the Hon. John T. Lang. However, Capt. Francis de Groot of the New Guard paramilitary group beat him to it. Capt. de Groot cut the ribbon with his sword! (He was subsequently arrested, the ribbon tied back together, and the ceremonial cutting proceeded without further hitches).
2 The public was allowed to walk across the deck of the bridge when it was first opened in 1932, repeated only 50 years later in 1982. If you are in Sydney in 2032, the centenary of the Sydney Harbour Bridge might be the next opportunity to do this again, so mark you calendar and do not miss that chance.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge as seen from Observatory Hill, The Rocks.
3 The bridge has been load tested with 96 steam locomotives in various configurations. This gives us an assurance that the bridge can carry that much load, but it does not mean that the bridge will not be able to carry even more.
4 There are about 6 million Australian made rivets used in the bridge, and the largest of these would be the 395-millimeter-long rivets which weighed around 3.5 kilograms.
5 The granite face of the four 89-meter-high pylons of the bridge used around 17,000 cubic meters of granite blocks quarried near the historic town of Moruya and transported to Sydney 300 kilometers north using ships specially built for such purpose.
The pedestrian walkway at the Sydney Harbour Bridge is perfect for jogging.
6 The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the world's largest steel bridge, but unfortunately is not the longest.
7 Despite the boom in the Australian mining industry in recent years, particularly the demand for Aussie steel, only twenty one percent (21%) of the steel used to build the harbour bridge was sourced from Australia. Seventy nine percent (79%) of the steel used in building the bridge was imported from England.
8 The Sydney Harbour Bridge contains a total of 52,800 tonnes of steel, which includes the arch and the approach spans. It is engineered to withstand expansion or contraction due to heating or cooling by 420 millimeters for the deck and 180 millimeters for the arch.
9 It took 272,000 litres of paint for the initial 3 coats of the harbour bridge. At one time, a team commissioned to repaint the bridge was virtually permanently employed because after they completed the last coat of paint, it was about time to start the next one.
10 It took 1,400 men eight years to build the bridge at a cost of 4.2 million dollars and 16 lives lost. Homes of up to 800 families living along the path of the bridge were also demolished without any compensation given.
View of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from Milson's Point