The Sydney Harbour Bridge is one of Australia’s biggest icons (next to the Sydney Opera House), I have complied a few “fast facts” on the bridge – Enjoy!
1. The Bridge is 134m high at the summit of the bridge and 1,149m long.
2. There are approx. 6 million rivets in the bridge. (I guessed a billion, I was a little off!)
3. On hot days the bridge can expand the height of the arch by as much as 18cm (7.1 inches) but the bridge has a specially designed hinges to allow for this change without compromising the Bridge.
4. The total weight of the bridge is 52,800 tonnes, with the arch itself weighing 39,000 tonnes. Approx. 79% of the steel used in the bridge was imported from England.
5. At each end of the arch stands a pair of 89 m (292 ft) high concrete pylons, faced with granite. The Pylon on each end are only for “decoration” they have no structural significance. It took 250 Australian, Scottish and Irish stonemasons to prepare the granite for the Pylons and approx. 18,000 cubic meters of granite came from Moruya, NSW, 300km away from Sydney. The stonemasons cut, dressed, and numbered each of the blocks and then transported them to Sydney on three ships built specifically for the transport of the granite to the bridge.
6. During the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge from 1923 – 1932 amazingly (and sadly) only 16 men died from bridge related work, of those 16, only 2 fell to their deaths from the bridge.
7. Vincent Kelly is the only known survivor of a fall from the bridge. Read more in BridgeClimb part 2.
8. During the construction of the bridge, 469 buildings on the north shore, both private homes and commercial properties were demolished in order to allow construction of the bridge, the occupants were offered little or no compensation.
9. In less than two years, on Tuesday the 19th August 1930, the two halves of the arch touched for the first time.
10. On 19 January 1932 the first test train which was a steam locomotive, safely crossed the bridge.
11. The Bridge cost AU£6.25 million to build, the debt was not paid off in full until 1988. Taking 65 years to pay off this enormous debt!
12. The Labour Premier at the time, Jack Lang was to open the bridge by cutting a ribbon at its southern end however Francis de Groot has other plans, he rode up on his horse and cut the ribbon with his sword. Francis was arrested and fined and later sued the Commissioner of Police for wrongful arrest and won!
13. The Sydney Harbour Bridge is also known as the “Coat Hanger” due to its shape.
14. In the 1950s and 1960s, the world famous White Cats lived in a ‘cattery’ on the roof of the Pylon Lookout. The cats belonged to Mrs Rentoul, who operated the Lookout at the time. People would come from all around to check out the amazing views and visit the cats.
15. “Crocodile” Dundee’s” Paul Hogan was once employed to work on the Bridge as a rigger.
16. The bridge is the centre of the New Year’s Eve celebrations, each year giving a bigger and better show!
17. If you are a scardey cat and don’t want to do the BridgeClimb (or if you can’t afford the BridgeClimb) the Pylon Lookout is the next best thing! You only need to take 200 stairs inside the south-east pylon to get to the Pylon Lookout for amazing views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour surrounds. General admission is $13 per adult and $6.50 per child. (pricing as of Jan 2014)
18. In 1989 Paul Cave was involved in organizing a climb over the arch of Sydney Harbour Bridge and nine years later, BridgeClimb opened to the public!