The Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened on 19 March 1932. At the time it was the largest, though not quite the longest, steel arch bridge in the world. The bridge was a source of pride for Sydneysiders and many other Australians who saw it as a symbol of Australia's ability to achieve world-class success.
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Sydney Harbour Bridge
The Sydney Harbour Bridge soon after its completion, 1932. National Museum of Australia.
The bridge weighs more than 50,000 tonnes and sits 134 metres above the harbour.
School children crossing the Sydney Harbour Bridge three days before the official opening in March 1932. State Records New South Wales.
About 52,000 New South Wales school children walked across the Bridge on a special day of celebrations. Children were also involved in the official opening ceremony when school captains delivered a 'Message of Goodwill and Congratulations' on behalf of all the children of New South Wales.
The official opening of the Bridge on 19 March 1932 did not go to plan. Before New South Wales premier Jack Lang could cut the ribbon, a protester named Francis de Groot rode up on horseback and slashed it with his sword. De Groot believed that a representative of the royal family should have opened the Bridge. The ceremony continued after the ribbon was re-tied. De Groot was arrested and later found guilty of offensive behaviour. National Museum of Australia.
PremierNew South Wales premier Jack Lang (centre) officially cuts the ribbon at the ceremony to open the Sydney Harbour Bridge on 19 March 1932. Also in this image are Governor Sir Philip Game (at left, wearing military dress), Game's assistant, Lord Gifford (far left), and Sydney Lord Mayor, Samuel Walder (third from right, wearing mayoral robes and chains). State Library of New South Wales (Home and Away – 2144).
Cars, trains and bicycles cross Sydney Harbour Bridge, March 1932. Photo: Sam Hood. Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales (Home and Away – 5260).
In recent times, an average of more than 150,000 vehicles cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge each day. The Sydney Harbour Tunnel was opened in 1992 to ease congestion on the bridge. The tunnel is used by an average 90,000 vehicles each day.
An aerial view of Sydney Harbour, from the west, 2008. Today the bridge is a major tourist attraction. It is the centrepiece for New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney. Bridge climb tours introduced in 1998 provide views of the harbour, city and surrounds. Photo: Peter, Wikimedia Commons.