This Is What Sydney Looked Like Before The Harbour Bridge Was Built

The Coathanger made things SO much easier.

Before the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built, getting from the south of the city to the north was a real hassle.

A map of Sydney Harbour and the Parramatta River from 1858. Sands & Kenny / State Library of NSW / Via sl.nsw.gov.au

The Sydney Harbour Bridge opened to the public in 1932. Prior to that people wanting to cross the harbour from the southern to the northern suburbs relied on ferries and boats.

A view of Circular Quay with Bennelong Point (left) - the future site of the Sydney Opera House - and Dawes Point (right), taken from the north side of the harbour in 1904. Melvin Vaniman / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

Fondly known by locals as The Coathanger, the Sydney Harbour Bridge is 85 years old.

People looking at Sydney Harbour from Mrs Macquarie’s Chair in the Royal Botanic Gardens, circa 1870-1875. American & Australasian Photographic Company / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

Which means there are people alive today who were around when you couldn’t just drive from Sydney’s south to its north. In 1932 the horse and cart was fading into history; cars and buses were gaining in popularity, but most people got around in trams and trains.

Horse-drawn traffic seen on Bridge Street, a block from Circular Quay, circa 1912. Sam Hood / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

And on boats and ferries.

Ships and ferries cross Sydney Harbour from Milsons Point, with Circular Quay seen in the distance, 1914. State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

Sydney had a bustling ferry network for commuters.

People walking to and from Circular Quay along Phillip Street, circa1885-90. Arthur K. Syer / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

Boats were a significant part of the harbour landscape.

Ships and ferries docked at Circular Quay in 1871. Charles Percy Pickering / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

Because there was an entire community already living on the other side of the water.

A view of Milsons Point and Kirribilli taken from the south side at Dawes Point in 1921. State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

A lot of families settled in the north and commuted daily to the city.

A view of Sydney Harbour taken from North Sydney in 1876, showing Lavander Bay. Francis W. Robinson / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

It’s OK, though – no passport was required.

A panorama of Sydney Harbour taken from the north shore in 1903. Melvin Vaniman / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

The Manly ferry was popular.

Scenes at the Manly Ferry Wharf Sydney circa 1885-1890. Arthur K Syer / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

But eventually Sydneysiders realised the city couldn’t remain divided forever, and people began digging.

Early excavations of northern end of York Street, the future site of the southern approach to the Harbour Bridge, taken circa 1930-1932. Ted Hood / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

Thanks to them we can now travel to visit our northern neighbours by car, bus, train, ferry or on foot.

The quarry at Moruya used for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, circa 1925-1927. State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw

So Happy 85th birthday Sydney Harbour Bridge!

Photographer Ted Hood took this photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge while hanging upside down 130 metres above the harbour. Ted Hood / State Library of NSW / Via Flickr: statelibraryofnsw
















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Anna Mendoza is a photo editor for BuzzFeed and is based in Sydney, Australia.
 
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