The Sydney Harbour Bridge is an Australian heritage-listed steel through arch bridge across Sydney Harbour that carries rail, vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic between the Sydney central business district (CBD) and the North Shore. The view of the bridge, the harbour, and the nearby Sydney Opera House is widely regarded as an iconic image of Sydney, and of Australia itself. The bridge is nicknamed “The Coathanger” because of its arch-based design.
Under the direction of John Bradfield of the New South Wales Department of Public Works, the bridge was designed and built by British firm Dorman Long of Middlesbrough (who based the design on their 1928 Tyne Bridge in Newcastle upon Tyne) and opened in 1932. The bridge’s general design, which Bradfield tasked the NSW Department of Public Works with producing, was a rough copy of the Hell Gate Bridge in New York City. This general design document, however, did not form any part of the request for tender, which remained sufficiently broad as to allow cantilever and even suspension bridge proposals. The design chosen from the tender responses was original work created by Dorman Long, who leveraged some of the design from their own Tyne Bridge which, though superficially similar, does not share the graceful flares at the ends of each arch which make the harbour bridge so distinctive. It is the sixth longest spanning-arch bridge in the world and the tallest steel arch bridge, measuring 134 meters from top to water level. It was also the world’s widest long-span bridge, at 48.8 m (160 ft) wide, until construction of the new Port Mann Bridge in Vancouver was completed in 2012.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge was added to the Australian National Heritage List on 19 March 2007 and to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 25 June 1999.