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Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, along with the near-by Sydney Opera House make up the tag team symbol for all of Australia.  Add Ayers rock to the equation and you have pretty much everything people recognize with Australia.

Sydney Harbour Bridge is also known as the coat hanger because of its appearance, and because of many Australians bizarre affection for hangers…just kidding.  The bridge has over 6 million hand driven rivets, and the design was made to take into account massive expansion due to the hot Sydney sun.

Originally completed in 1932, the bridge was the first major public structure built by Australia’s fledging government, and has been a source of pride for Australians ever since. And each year millions of people from all over the world visit the bridge as a tourist attraction.  Admission is $8.50 AU and children under the age of 12 get in for free.

In terms of symbolism, the bridge occupies a similar place in Australia’s consciousness as the statue of Liberty in New York.  When new immigrants arrive in Australia one of the first things they see is the massive bridge.  It is truly a great symbol of a modern society that extends is good will towards people determined to make a better like for themselves.  This is especially true for many of the displaced people who fled Europe during and after the Second World War.  They had seen so many terrible things that the Sydney Harbor bridge was a symbol of salvation.

Today, the Sydney Harbour bridge is the largest bridge in the world (not the longest though) and it costs 20 dollars for a return trip.  When the bridge was first built it cost a mere six pence to cross the bridge in a car and a horse and rider cost 3 pence.  Today horses are not allowed on the bridge.  Ahhh, how times have changed.

Its total length including approach spans is 1149 metres and its arch span is 503 metres. The top of the arch is 134 metres above sea level and the clearance for shipping under the deck is a spacious 49 metres. The total steelwork weighs 52,800 tonnes, including 39,000 tonnes in the arch. The 49 metre wide deck makes Sydney Harbour Bridge the widest Longspan Bridge in the world.

Today the bridge has eight lanes for vehicles, a bicycle path and even a foot lane for people who want to take their time and enjoy the view of the harbour.

When the bridge first opened in 1932, after five years of construction, there was a huge party to celebrate.  An estimated 300,000 people showed up for the ribbon cutting.  This was a massive turnout for a city and a country with a relatively small population at the time.

But more than all of this, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is an essential thoroughfare that brings people to and from Sydney on a daily basis.  Without the bridge, Sydney would not be the economic powerhouse it is today, and the cultural hub of the country.