It’s always nice when someone remembers your birthday. Today the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney’s grand lady and an iconic international symbol of our sunny city, celebrates her 80th year.
Honoured by a party with bands and retro fashion parades as well as mentions in global news stories, Google has also paid Sydney the ultimate compliment with a “Google doodle” coloured sketch of the bridge on their local search engine homepage.
Today, March 19, is 80 years to the day since the “Coathanger,” as the bridge is affectionately known by locals, was opened by the then NSW Premier, Jack Lang.
The opening was famously interrupted by Francis de Groot of the paramilitary New Guard riding his horse in uniform and using his sword to slash the ceremonial ribbon before Lang could cut it in front of around a million onlookers.
As a thoroughfare from the north to the central, east and west of Sydney (and back), the bridge is an essential artery for traffic – around 160,000 vehicles cross it every weekday, as well as trains.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge is probably best known as the centrepiece for a fantastic fireworks display that blasts over the Harbour every year on December 31 at 9pm and then again in a grand finale at midnight to celebrate New Year’s Eve – Sydney style!
Fast Bridge Facts
- It took six years to build
- It is the world’s largest steel arch bridge at 1149 metres long with an arch span of 503 metres and 143 metres high.
- Built by Dr John Job Crew Bradfield and a team of engineers and construction workers, Bradfield is often called, ‘The Father of The Bridge’ and the park at Milson’s Point at the foot of the bridge on the north side carries his name in honour.
- The approach spans were erected first, then specially-built ships and boats carried steel across the harbour to continue building as construction of the bridge inched its way to the middle from each side.
- If you want to find the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Google Earth, the coordinates are 33°51′08″S, 151°12′38″E.
- You can climb it and shout, “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie,” from the top and have your photo taken after mastering the three hour climb up and back down, with Bridgeclimb. www.bridgeclimb.com