Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Sydney Harbour Bridge Turns 80

Today marks 80 years since the opening of one of Australia's most recognisable landmarks – The Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

Even the Google doodle has change to a representation of the bridge to mark this auspicious occasion. 

On March 19, 1932,  controversial NSW Premier Jack Lang opened the bridge, the opening of which was interrupted famously by Francis de Groot riding his horse in full military regalia and using his sabre to slash the ceremonial ribbon for Lang had his chance. 

Lang was about to cut the ribbon to formally open the bridge, when de Groot rode forward, drew his ceremonial sword and, reaching down from his mount, flamboyantly slashed the ribbon, declaring the bridge open "in the name of the decent and respectable people of New South Wales." 

The bridge carries rail, vehicular, bicycle and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney CBD and the North Shore. It is often lovingly referred to as “The Coat-hanger” because of it's unique design. 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge still holds the Guinness World Record for the widest long-span bridge – something we can all be proud of that it holds this record after 80 years of faithful service.

An estimated 469 buildings on the north shore, both private homes and commercial operations, were demolished in order to allow construction to proceed, with little or no compensation being paid.

The standards of industrial safety during construction were poor by today's standards. Sixteen workers died during construction, but surprisingly only two from falling off the bridge. Several more were injured from unsafe working practices undertaken whilst heating and inserting its rivets, and the deafness experienced by many of the workers in later years was blamed on the project.

We all wish our favourite octogenarian a very happy birthday. 


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