For so much of the year Sydney-siders take the beautiful bridge captured in the image above as a normal part of Sydney life and skyline and spare it little thought. As New Year approaches though, many turn their attention to achieving the best possible view of the icon as it becomes the centre of Sydney’s New Year festivities.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge which is today such an icon of the Harbour City was, at the time of its opening in 1932, an engineering masterpiece at a whole new level. Yet the history of the bridge dates back over a century before to when convict architect Francis Greenway suggested building a bridge, in roughly the same location, to Governor Macquarie. Of course, this didn’t come to pass, but by Federation in 1901 the need for such a bridge was well recognised and in 1900 submissions for a bridge design were even called for, but they were all unsatisfactory and plans were yet again put aside.
It was after World War 1 when the real quest for a bridge began. Tenders, overseen by Dr J.J.C Bradfield, for either an arch or cantilever bridge were called for in 1923. Bradfield would ultimately oversee the entire design and building process. It was Dorman Long and Co. Ltd, a company from England, which won the tender, for their arch bridge designed by Sir Ralph Freeman. Construction began in 1924, displacing hundreds of families whose homes were resumed and demolished, without compensation, to make way for the bridge.
Come back next week to learn more about the history of Sydney’s iconic bridge.