Sydney Harbour Bridge
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The Sydney Harbour Bridge is the largest steel arch bridge in the world. Although it is not the world’s longest steel arch bridge, this bridge which is situated in a beautiful harbour has come to be recognised the world over as a symbol of Australia. Because of its arch based design, this bridge is fondly referred to as ‘the Coat Hanger’ and it carries vehicular, rail, bicycle and pedestrian traffic between the North Shore and Sydney’s central business district. A dramatic view of the bridge, the Sydney harbour, and the Sydney Opera House which is nearby has become an iconic image not only of Sydney but of New South Wales, and Australia as a whole. Plans to build a bridge came up as early as 1815, when convict and renowned architect Francis Greenway allegedly proposed to Governor Lachlan Macquarie an ambitious plan to build a bridge from the northern to the southern shore of the harbour. Ten years later, in an open letter to the then “The Australian” publication, Greenway would say that building such a bridge would "give an idea of strength and magnificence that would reflect credit and glory on the colony and the Mother Country". Greenway’s suggestions were ignored but the idea of build a bridge remained tantalizing to some and through the course of the nineteenth century, several suggestions would be made about that bridge including a suggestion for a floating bridge by naval architect Robert Brindley. At the turn of the century, the Lyne government, which ruled Australia at the time made a commitment to building a new Central railway station and went a step beyond that. They organized an international competition to design as well as construct a bridge for the harbour. An Australian engineer, Norman Selfe’s design of a suspension bridge won the second place prize of £500. Two years later, in 1902, the results of the first competition was enmeshed in controversy so a second competition was organized. Selfe won the second competition with a design for a steel cantilever bridge. The decision of the selection board was unanimous. Unfortunately, because of an economic downturn and a change in government after the 1904 New South Wales State election, construction never began. It wasn’t until 1914 that efforts to build the bridge would once again continue. J.J.C. Bradfield was appointed to the post of "Chief Engineer of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Metropolitan Railway Construction", he would continue to work on the project for years to come and this would eventually earn him the title of “father” of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At the time, Dr. Bradfield preferred a cantilever bridge without piers. Two years later, in 1916, the legislative assembly of New South Wales would pass a bill for the construction of the bridge. The bill, however, got vetoed by the Legislative council who felt that the money to be used for the construction would serve better if it was spent on the war effort. When World War I ended, ideas to build the bridge once again gained momentum. Bradfield continued with the project, etching out the details for the specifications as well as the financing for his cantilever bridge proposal. When he returned from traveling in 1921, Bradfield decided that an arch design would also be suitable for the bridge. He and his fellow officers at the New South Wales Department of Public Works t then prepared a general design for a single arch bridge. The next year, the government passed the Sydney Harbour Bridge Act No. 28, which specified the construction of a high level arch or cantilever bridge across the Sydney harbour between Milsons Point and Dawes Point, alongside the construction of all necessary approaches as well as electric railway lines. The official ceremony to mark the "turning of the first sod", which signaled the beginning of the construction of the bridge took place on the 28 th of July 1923, on a spot at Milsons Point on the northern shore of the harbor which was the proposed location of the two workshops intended to assist in building the bridge. Construction would continue for several years until the last stone of the north-west pylon was set in place on 15 January 1932, and the timber towers used to support the cranes were removed. The formal opening of the bridge took place on Saturday, 19 March 1932. The then Labor Premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang, was scheduled to open the bridge by cutting a ribbon at its southern end. However, just as Lang was about to cut the ribbon, signaling the bridge open, a man dressed in military uniform rode up on a horse, slashed the ribbon with his sword and opened the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the name of the people of New South Wales before the official ceremony began. His name was Francis de Groot and he was immediately arrested, convicted and later successfully sued for wrongful arrest. The ribbon was swiftly retied and Premier Lang performed the official opening ceremony. After he did so, there was a 21-gun salute and an RAAF flypast.
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The Sydney Harbour Bridge
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