Construction on the bridge began in December, 1926. The foundations, which are 12 metres (39 feet) deep, are set in sandstone. Anchoring tunnels are 36 metres (118 feet) long and dug into rock at each end. Construction on the arch began in November, 1929.
It was built in halves with steel cable restraints initially supporting each side. The arch spans 503 metres (1650 feet) and supports the weight of the bridge deck, with hinges at either end bearing the bridge’s full weight and spreading the load to the foundations. The
By October, 1930, the two arch halves had met and work then began on the deck. The deck is 59 metres (194 feet) above sea level and was built from the center out.
The NSW Premier at the time, John T Lang, officially declared the bridge open, but before he could cut the ribbon, Captain Francis de Groot of the New Guard (but disguised as a military horseman), slashed it with his sword. He claimed that the bridge should have been opened by member of the royal family. The incident has become a part of Australian folklore and a symbol of the perceived national character trait of rebellion against authority.
Known as the ‘Coathanger’, the bridge is iconic to Sydney Harbour and the views from the water are outstanding. It is the world’s largest steel arch bridge (but not the longest) and is one of Australia’s most well-known and photographed landmarks.
Comprised of over 550,000 individual pieces of steel, the Bridge weighs approximately 52,000 tonnes. That’s the equivalent of 7 Eiffel Towers, or 153 Boeing 747s, or 19,260 Asian elephants!
From 1926–1932, anywhere from 1,200 to 1,400 Sydneysiders worked on the construction of the Bridge.