The Awe-Inspiring Sydney Harbour Bridge

Published On: May 22, 2023

Sydney is known for a lot of things. However, the classic and the world’s largest steel-arched bridge, The Sydney Harbour Bridge comes second only to the world-famous Sydney Opera House. The bridge connects the Central Business District to the North Shore. If you take a few steps back (by few we mean many), the steel arched bridge resembles a coat hanger and this is also how the name, “The Coathanger” became synonymous with the Sydney Harbour Bridge. This article is a walkthrough of this marvellous structure that has been standing tall above the Parramatta River for over 90 years. 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge was constructed to connect the North Shore and the Central Business District in Sydney. A necessity of several people for an easy commute gave birth to the world’s largest steel arch bridge. The bridge was constructed using about 53,000 tonnes of steel, most of which is lodged in the arches. The provisions are such that you can cross the bridge via car, rail, bicycle and even on foot. Also, if you aren’t scared of heights, you can even climb the bridge. 

Also Read: Iconic Piece American's Golden Gate Architecture

Some of the basic facts about the Sydney Harbour Bridge are given below. 

Type of BridgeSteel arched bridge
Length 3770 feet
Width160 feet
Height440 feet
Start of ConstructionJuly 28, 1923
End of ConstructionJanuary 19, 1932
Opening Ceremony March 19, 1932
ArchitectsJohn Bradfield, Thomas S. Tait and Ralph Freeman
Constructed by Dorman Long and Co 


Sydney Harbour Bridge History

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is a steel through arch bridge cutting across the Sydney Harbour. The bridge is the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge and the tallest steel arch bridge in the world, measuring 134m from top to water level. Its construction was a major feat of engineering and involved the development of significant new techniques in the areas of concrete placing, steel fabrication, and cable spinning.

The proposal to build a bridge connecting the CBD to the North Shore dates back to 1814. Francis Greenway, a famous architect, was adamant about building this bridge and wrote to the governor and Australian newspapers. Robert Brindley, a naval architect, proposed a floating bridge structure in 1840. Peter Henderson drew his vision of the bridge, which was a truss bridge costing 850,000 euros. In 1900, the Lyne Government held a worldwide competition to select the best design for the construction of the bridge above the Parramatta River. In 1922, the final design was proposed by Ernest Stowe.


Sydney Harbour Bridge Construction

After several discussions, the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge began in 1924 and was completed in 1932. The bridge was designed by British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd and was the largest steel arch bridge in the world at the time of its completion. The first step in the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was the preparation of the site. This included the excavation of more than 1,000,000 cubic yards of rock and soil and the placement of steel foundation piles into the harbour bed. The next step was the construction of the two main arches. This was done by driving steel piles into the harbour bed and then connecting them with steel cables to form the arches. The arches were then filled with concrete and reinforced with steel rods. Then the main span was constructed, which was made up of steel girders bolted together and connected to the arches. This was followed by the construction of the two side spans, which were made up of steel trusses connected to the arches and the main span. The final step in the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was the installation of the road deck. This was done by laying steel beams across the top of the arches and side spans and then attaching steel plates to form the road deck. This was then covered with asphalt to form the final surface. The construction cost of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was around 4.2 million pounds, and it took 8 years to complete. It was opened to the public in March 1932 and has since become one of Australia's most iconic landmarks. 

You can also Check: Blenheim Palace Garden Architecture

Things To Do Near the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Things To Do Near the Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour looks beautiful, lit golden at night due to the lights installed on the bridge itself and during the day due to a vivid marriage of the sun and the steelwork of the bridge. There is a lot to do around the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Some experiences that you can indulge in are mentioned below. 

1. Visit the Rocks Discovery Museum: The Rocks Discovery Museum is an interactive museum that tells the story of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the people who built it. It is located near the bridge and provides an insight into the history and evolution of the bridge. 

2. Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge: Climb the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and take in stunning views of Sydney’s skyline. The bridge climbing tour is a thrilling experience and perfect for those looking to get up close and personal with this iconic structure.

3. Explore the Sydney Opera House: Completed in 1973, the Sydney Opera House is one of the world’s most recognisable landmarks. Take a guided tour and explore the beautiful building and its many performance spaces. 

4. Visit Taronga Zoo: Located on the North Shore of the harbour, Taronga Zoo is home to over 350 species of animals from around the world. Enjoy a day of exploring the animal exhibits and taking in breathtaking views of the harbour. 

5. Take a Harbour Cruise: Take a cruise from the harbour and explore Sydney’s stunning natural beauty. Cruise past the Sydney Harbour Bridge and other landmarks as you enjoy a relaxing journey around the harbour.

Bridging the Gap  

Architectural marvels like the Sydney Harbour Bridge are an inspiration to many young architects. These structures not only are functional but also tie in the past with the present times. Even though Shakespeare was adamant about how gilded monuments can’t survive the oblivion, we can hold on to these for a while and reminisce how far we have come in terms of development and use of technology. 

*Images used are for illustration purposes only. Interior Company does not hold any copyright to the images unless mentioned explicitly.

When was the Sydney Harbour Bridge constructed?

The Sydney Harbour Bridge completed construction in 1932.

Which areas are connected by the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

Sydney Harbour Bridge connects the Central Business District and the North Shore.

Can I climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge?

Yes, you can climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge by booking the activity on the official website.