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Sydney Harbour Bridge, 1930

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.

The construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was one of Australia’s greatest engineering feats. It provided thousands of jobs during the Great Depression, but working conditions were hazardous. Click on the images below for photos, videos and more information. Suitable for years 3 to 6.

Planning and design

Did you know?

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?

Construction

Hazardous working conditions

Hundreds of people worked on the Sydney Harbour Bridge during the eight years of its construction. It created jobs and helped to boost morale during the Great Depression.

Working conditions on the bridge were difficult, with very little safety equipment. Sixteen men died during construction, including a number who fell to their death.

Did you know?

Did you know one worker survived a fall from the bridge? Boilermaker Vincent Kelly was also an experienced diver and swam to safety after falling into the harbour.

Opening

World-class success

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.

Take the quiz

How much do you know about the Sydney Harbour Bridge? Check out the Kids learning space pages above, then see how many answers you can get right!

Start the Sydney Harbour
Bridge online quiz

Watch the video

This 1933 film celebrates the construction and opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Building an icon 1:25

Footage supplied by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia’s Film Australia Collection.

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