March 19th will mark the 90th birthday of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and plans are underway to make it a celebration for the books. There is a lot that we know and love about the Sydney icon. We know it’s affectionately referred to as the Coathanger by locals, we know it’s one of the most photographed landmarks in the country and we know it’s the star of the NYE fireworks. But in anticipation of the big day, let’s get into a few Harbour Bridge facts that you may not be privy to.
1. 1400 workers put in over 8 years of work to complete the bridge
Building the bridge was a mammoth effort and used the collective labour of 1400 workers. 53,000 tonnes of steel and over 6 million hand-driven rivets were used to bring it all together along with 272,000 litres of paint.
2. Upon opening, it cost a car six pence to cross and 3 pence for a horse and rider
Today it costs around $4 (and you can’t take any horses onto it.)
3. It was inspired by New York City’s Hell Gate Bridge
The two iconic landmarks share a lot in common including the arched shape and the decorative pylons.
4. It’s the world’s largest steel arch bridge
Over 160,000 vehicles cross the bridge on the daily.
5. Australia was still paying off debts for the Harbour Bridge until 1988
The bridge cost a whopping 10 million pounds when it was built — over 1.5 billion in Australian dollars today.
6. You can get married on the Sydney Harbour Bridge
We know millions have climbed it but did you know you could also get married on it? The BridgeClimb makes it’s the most unique wedding venue in the city.
7. It houses a museum
The bridge is home to the Pylon Museum + lookout. You’ll have to climb 200 stairs to get to it via the pedestrian pathway on the Eastern side of the Bridge (from the city side) but it’s totally worth it.
8. The Harbour Bridge is constantly being painted
The bridge took so long to paint that by the time it was complete, it had to be repainted again! Till date, regular repainting of the steelwork is an ongoing part of it’s maintenance.
9. The bridge is an optical illusion
Although the bridge looks curved from different angles, it’s actually completely straight.
10. World War 1 led to a delay in it’s construction
Talk of a bridge being built started as far back as 1815 but World War 1 led to a major delay in it’s design plans. Finally in 1916 construction was approved by the Legislative Assembly of New South Wales, with construction eventually beginning in 1923.
11. Paul Hogan served as a rigger on the Harbour Bridge
Before finding fame as the lead of the beloved Crocodile Dundee, Paul Hogan was actually one of the riggers working on the bridge.
12. The four pylons on either side are completely decorative
As popular as the pylons are especially amongst photographers, they serve no other purpose than being completely decorative.