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'A Magnificent Monument': Sydney Harbour Bridge Celebrates Its 85th Birthday

The iconic bridge opened in 1932.

It's the icon associated with Sydney across the globe and on Sunday it turns 85.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge, celebrated worldwide as an engineering marvel, was opened to traffic on this day in 1932 after a mammoth eight years of construction

The coat hanger carries about 160,000 vehicles across Sydney Harbour every workday and is the centrepiece of the city's annual sparkling New Year's Eve celebrations.

The massive construction employed more than 1,000 builders who were paid as little as four pounds a week during the Great Depression to work on the project.

Construction of the bridge began in 1924, after Australian engineer Dr John Job Crew Bradfield's design was approved by the New South Wales government.

The decision to build an arch-based bridge was a late change from Bradfield after he visited the Hell Gate Bridge in New York.

In the years since opening, the beloved Harbour Bridge has been lovingly described as the coat hanger, the humpback whale and a symphony of steel.

Perhaps the Queen Mother put it best, when she praised the bridge as "a magnificent monument" in a speech during her visit Down Under.

"From where I'm speaking I can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge sweeping its great arch across the sky," she said.

"It is perhaps the perfect example of all that you've achieved."

The bridge's steelwork alone weighs 52,800 tonnes and it's held together by 6 million rivets -- each one driven in by hand.

The structure rises 134 metres above sea level, almost as high as The Great Pyramid in Egypt, and is 503 metres long.


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