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Sydney Harbour Bridge

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Impact

All engineering projects have some impact on the environment and the people living around the project. For Sydney as a whole, the Bridge helped to open up the northern side of the harbour and allowed the city to expand north.

However the approaches to the Bridge cut a swathe through fashionable housing on the ridge above the Rocks with the many demolitions including Dawes Point battery. The battery had been commenced in 1791 to defend Sydney Town and was upgraded several times until 1850. In 1819 Governor Macquarie had engaged Francis Greenway to design fort buildings that would appear as a castle to ships entering the harbour.

All engineering projects have some impact on the environment and the people living around the project.  For Sydney as a whole, the bridge opened up the northern side of the harbour and allowed the city to expand north.  However to achieve this, parts of the Rocks had to be demolished as did the Dawes Pt battery, which was designed by Francis Greenway.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge would have improved safety, because, prior to its opening, there were 75 ferries per hour between the north and south sides of the harbour.  The bridge would have replaced much of this traffic and heightened safety for commuters.

In terms of morale the Bridge’s value is immeasurable. Built during the Great Depression, it was the lifeblood of the floundering NSW economy.  It was not the first large engineering venture in Australia, but it certainly was one of the most recognised and it showed Sydney, like other great cities around the world, could build a large bridge that symbolically was so much more than a road/rail link north.

It has, ever since its opening, become an icon for Sydney and Australia, and due to its dramatic placement, it has become the centre piece for many celebrations around the harbour.

It is arguably one of the most dramatically placed bridges in the world.

Demolishing, at the best, is rough work. But this contractor employed mostly young men, who scientifically discussed the best method of pulling down a house ... Here is a surprising fact, these demolishers never looked dirty... Turn again to the phographs. Those fellows, by the very appearance, might have just come on the work. The truth is, they had been on the job seven hours. They did not, in the language of the demolisher, belt away at a wall, but they did it carefully and methodically.
Demolishing, at the best, is rough work. But this contractor employed mostly young men, who scientifically discussed the best method of pulling down a house ... Here is a surprising fact, these demolishers never looked dirty... Turn again to the phographs. Those fellows, by their very appearance, might have just come on the work. The truth is, they had been on the job seven hours. They did not, in the language of the demolisher, belt away at a wall, but they did it carefully and methodically.
Walls prior to demolition, North Sydney. Frank Cash, c1925 silver gelatin photoprah, 10.8 x 8.3 cm each. Moore College Library Archives

Question:

What would you say to a person who was about to lose his home to the bridge? (Engineers have to deal with ethical questions such as these, as well as designing structures like the bridge.)

The Sydney Harbour Bridge would improve safety. Prior to its opening, there were 75 ferries every hour between the northern and southern sides of the harbour. The Bridge was to replace much of this traffic and therefore improve safety for commuters.

In terms of morale at the time, the Bridge’s value was immeasurable. Built during the Great Depression of the 1920s and 30s, it was the lifeblood of the floundering NSW economy. It was not the first large engineering venture in Australia, but it was certainly one of the most widely recognised. It showed that Sydney, like other great cities around the world, could build a large bridge that, symbolically, was so much more than a road/rail link north.

Ever since its opening, the Bridge has been an icon for Sydney and Australia, and due to its dramatic placement it has become the centrepiece for many celebrations around the harbour.

In terms of visual impact it is arguably one of the most dramatically placed bridges in the world.

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