Sydney Harbour Bridge construction centennial

By Esme Mathis 26 July 2023
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On 28 July 1923, the first sod was turned at a ceremony heralding the official start of construction on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The beloved landmark would become one of Australia’s biggest employment projects during the Great Depression, hiring boilermakers, draughtsmen, engineers and more.

Granite for the piers and pylons was quarried at Moruya on the New South Wales south coast, but only 20 per cent of the steel was produced in Australia. Most was manufactured in England.

By 1928 giant “creeper cranes” were built on opposite sides of the bridge and work on the arches began.

The project employed more than 2000 people, 16 of whom died on the site.

It displaced more than 800 tenant families living on the bridge’s path. Their homes were demolished without compensation.

The bridge was opened to the public on 19 March 1932

Related: Gallery: Sydney Harbour Bridge opens, 1932