Sydney's Harbour Bridge

Sydney, the capital of New South Wales, houses a population

of over one and a quarter million, a third of whom

daily cross the harbour to their homes.

The bridging of these beautiful waters was therefore inevitable.

Circular Key, typical of the hustle and the bustle of seething Sydney,

was before the bridge was built,

the sole point of arrival and the departure for all North Shore.

How the ferry passengers pour in,

eager to reach the comfort of their homes

after the day's hard toil in the city.

The ferries, for all their quainter charm, belong to the past.

The old order changes. And so arises the steel colossus of the new age,

Sydney's Harbour Bridge,

stretching from Milson's Point on the North Shore to Dawes Point.

A span of 1,650 feet.

The largest bridge in the world containing 52,300 tons of steel

Not only steel.

The quarries of Moruya, 170 miles away,

were specially opened and equipped to supply stone for the approaches

and the 20,000 cubic yards of granite required

for the piers and pylons.

Blocks of stone were dressed and faced before shipment to Sydney,

all ready to slip into their positions

in the great structure.

Giant scoops snatch up broken granite for the concrete work which required

1,200,000 bags of cement

and 120,000 cubic yards of sand.

1,000 men were employed building the bridge.

All doubts whether Australians were equal to the task were soon dispelled.

"The Australians proved they're skilled tradesmen

as any I had experience with in Britain or America",

said Mr Lawrence Ennis,

Director of Construction for the British contractors, Dorman Long and Company.

These men handled members of a size and weight

never before contemplated in engineering, surmounting new difficulties

one by one as they arose.

Every girder slipped easily into its position

in the vast web of steel.

The bridge, the construction cost of which, was £6,250,000

involved a total outlay, including resumptions,

of about about £10 million.

It took six years to build

but represented an idea which first shaped itself

as long ago as 1815.

Miracles were rort daily in the fabrication shop on the North Shore

by giant milling and planing machines.

Each of the four main bearings

consisted of an assembly of steel castings and forgings

weighing 296 tons.

Creeper cranes of uncanny accuracy

and their gigantic strength set stone on stone,

steel to steel.

The masters of the great machines direct a girder into position.

More than 5 million rivets were driven into the structure.

For six years,

morning, noon and night, the bridge was a constant topic

of ferryboat conversation. Two half arches,

growing together from shore to shore, were watched like the delicate tendrils

of a hothouse plant.

Neither the vast bulk looming over Kirribilli Point,

nor the distant spectacle of the bridge's simple beauty,

gives much hint of the manifold complexity

of cords, cross girders and cables.

The interest of the crowd increased daily

as the new wonder evolved.

Foot by foot the two half arches crept towards each other.

Each half arch anchored the back in a jungle of steels ropes.

Everyone of these cable comprises 217 wires and weighs eight and a half tons.

Sydney cheered wildly

when on August the 19th, 1930,

after months of tension, the arch was closed.

They met to a fraction. The joined plate was a symbolical last link.

Doctor Bradfield, the chief engineer for the bridge and Mr Ennis,

anxiously inspect the join.

Hangers up to 193 feet long

support the broad decking.

The approaches to the bridge on each shore were rapidly completed.

Saturday March the 19th,1932 was Sydney's red-letter day

with pomp and a pageantry such as had never before been seen in the state.

With a blare of trumpets, sirens and whistles,

with rockets and ribbons and the rolling thunder of artillery

the bridge was officially declared open.

Huge steamers, gay yachts and sprightly speedboats

saluted the bridge from beneath. The dream was realised at last

and the North Shore entered into its heritage as the Brooklyn of the south seas.

Sydney rightly claims

the greatest and heaviest arch-typed bridge in the world.

Although 25 inches shorter than the Kill Van Kull bridge, New York,

it is 160 feet wide as against the Kill Van Kull's 90 feet

and its arch alone contains 37,000 tons of steel

as against Kill Van Kull's 16,000 tons.

It has a higher clearance than any bridge except

the George Washington suspension bridge at New York.

Its maximum hourly capacity is 128 electric trains, 6,000 vehicles in each direction

and 40,000 pedestrians.

Enhancing the natural beauty of Sydney Harbour,

it stands as an arch of triumph of British engineering

and of Australian enterprise and industry.