And so the days are filled...

21 October 2005

A second in Sydney

I've had the Sydney Harbour Bridge on my mind. It's my favourite bridge in all the world. Seeing it in person, which I do, twice a day as my ferry motors past, one is amazed by the height and massiveness of it. But my very favourite thing about the Coathanger, as it is affectionately known, is that the steel arch (the 3rd longest in the world - and the heaviest steel structure of its sort EVER MADE) doesn't even join into the ponderous Sydney sandstone pylons at either end. In fact, the pylons serve no structural purpose whatsoever. They were added purely for aesthetics. An amazing decision, given today's concern for economy and McMansions and the like. The bridge was completed in 1932, taking 8 years to construct. In the early years of the Depression, it was known as the 'Iron Lung' because of the number of workers it gave life & income to.
So if you're passing under, over, or near the Coathanger today, think about how much beauty it adds to your experience of harbour. (Or does it - would you be happier if all such crossings were hidden discreetly away like the Harbour Tunnel?) And if you've never seen the bridge, here is an amazing shot of it, licensed under Creative CommonsAttribution ShareAlike License v. 2.5 by Diliff and posted as a Feature Picture on Wikipedia. (Copyright holder, I hope that's enough detail.) (And note the Sydney Opera House to the left of the picture, which is positively diminutive in comparison to the bridge.)
And to the left is a lovely stained glass window called 'Work and Workers' by Robin Seville, installed in 2003 in one of the pylon windows (there's a second window in another pylon) to commemorate the 2,000 to 4,000 workers (noone's really sure) who made the Bridge with their bare hands and a few tools. Depicted here are the riveter (top - sorry riveter, didn't get much detail on you), stonemason (middle), and surveyor (bottom). For a nicer photograph of these guys you can visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Museum. Thanks to Jacqueline for the idea of writing about my city.