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.