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Planning and design

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Planning and design

Did you know the idea for a bridge across Sydney Harbour was first raised in 1815, more than 100 years before work on the bridge began?

Connecting the city

Sydney Harbour is one of the finest natural harbours in the world. As Sydney expanded in the 1800s, so did the need for a bridge to connect the city and the north shore.

Three design competitions were held from 1900 to 1903, then the project was abandoned. In 1922, the government committed to build an arch-type bridge. In 1924, United Kingdom firm Dorman Long and Co was appointed and work began with the demolition of hundreds of buildings to make way for the bridge and its approach roads.


  • Black and white drawing of a harbour with two sailing ships in the distance and a group of men gathered on a headland in the foreground.
    Sydney Harbour
  • A steam baot loaded with horses, several of them with men on their backs. Another steam-powered vessel is visible in the distance.
    Ferry crossing
  • Pencil and watercolour image showing a bridge across a body of water.
    Early design
  • Proposed bridge design blueprint showing steel arches across a central rail line.
    Early plan
  • A well-dressed man and woman stand looking out from a rail.
    Engineer John Bradfield
  • An architectural plan for one the Sydney Harbour Bridges pylons.
    Pylon design
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