Sydney: ‘The Coathanger’ Turns 90

The Sydney Harbour Bridge – Australia’s most recognisable and photographed landmark – turns 90 this month.

It’s the largest steel-arch bridge in the world, has been climbed by more than four million people and is one of Australia’s most recognisable landmarks.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, affectionately known as “the Coathanger”, turns 90 on March 19 and the Harbour City is preparing to celebrate in style.

To mark the occasion, around 100 members of the public will get the chance to cross the bridge on a famous steam locomotive known as 3801, recreating a journey made in 1932 by a locomotive known as C-3426.

Vintage buses will run between North Sydney and Wynyard in the CBD on March 19, while historic ferries will sail between Milsons Point and Campbell Cove.

A vintage “double decker” alongside a 1970s “red rattler” train on March 19.

A light show will also be beamed on the eastern and western sides of the bridge over four nights from March 17.

NSW Premier Jack Lang opened the Sydney Harbour Bridge on March 19, 1932.

Weighing 52,800 tonnes and held fast by six million hand-driven rivets, the Sydney Harbour Bridge officially opened for business in the midst of the Great Depression.

The ceremony was famously gatecrashed

Francis Edward de Groot, an Irish facist, swooped in on horseback and slashed the ribbon before Jack Lang could cut it. He believed the Governor General should be doing the honours, not the premier.

de Groot was found guilty of offensive behaviour in a public place and fined £5 with £4 costs. However, he wanted to further embarrass Lang, so he sued for false arrest and was awarded £68, making a £59 profit from the whole affair.

Nicknamed “the iron lung” because it was the lifeblood of Sydney, the bridge connects the city on the southern side with the north shore to the north. About 1,400 worked on the bridge during construction, and 16 died.

These days around 160,000 motorists cross the iconic bridge each day, and 480 trains cross it in either direction most weekdays.


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