How old is the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

How old is the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

Written by: Cameron Ward

Published: 02/20/2019

Reading time: 2 mins

A staple in Sydney’s iconic city centre, the picturesque harbour bridge blends perfectly with the sparkling sapphire waters and nearby Sydney Opera House.

It is more than a bridge to the Sydneysiders, with a rich history and a world-renowned symbol of Australia.  

The Idea of the Bridge

Nowadays, the city is so used to having the bridge, it’s almost impossible to imagine a time when it didn’t exist. With regular traffic buzzing along the bridge road every time of day. But before the Bridge existed, travelling from the south to the north side of the city was a lot harder, involving either a ferry or 20-kilometre route that went over five different bridges. The suggestion to join these two sides was proposed in 1815 by a convict architect Francis Greenway. But due to the cost and technical difficulties of that time, it wasn’t until the 1900s when the NSW Government began to seriously explore the idea of building it. Finally, after years of working towards it, the Sydney Harbour Bridge Act was passed in 1922. The controversy of who actually designed the end product is still up to debate. Engineer Dr JJC Bradfield had a longstanding control over the bridge, being head of the operation since 1912. However, Ralph Freeman was the consulting engineer and also claimed to be the Bridge’s designer.

The Constructing of the Bridge

The entire production took from 1924 until 1932, with an estimate of 2,000 to 4,000 workers employed throughout the construction. Workers such as engineers, boilermakers, ironworkers, carpenters, painters, surveyors, and stonemasons all were involved, with both local and international employees. The construction was far from easy, with the bridge being the largest and hardest structure attempted in Australia during that time. Health and Safety for workers didn’t exist then, and due to the dangerous risks, countless injuries and 16 deaths occurred thru the ten years. In 1930, the two halves of the bridge finally met, after slowly coming together more and more every year. The entire project cost equal to 500 million dollars in today’s money. Although the bridge has changed over time to evolve to today’s demands, the iconic arch will forever remain.

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Cameron Ward
Cameron Ward
Managing Director at Sightseeing Tours Australia

Cameron Ward turned his travel passion into a thriving Australian tourism business. Before he co-founded his own business, Sightseeing Tours Australia, he was enjoying being a Melbourne tour guide. Even now, Cameron delights in helping visitors from all around the world get the most out of their incredible Australian trip. You’ll see Cameron leading tours or writing about his favourite Australian places where he shares his local insights.