Friday, August 7, 2009

50th birthday of the Coathanger

In May 1959 the Auckland Harbour Bridge - popularly known like its counterpart in Sydney from 1932 as 'the coathanger' - was completed and opened. The 50th anniversary was not marked officially, but Random House and the NZ Herald have produced this pictorial history of what is the country's most iconic bridge. The story of its design, planning, financing and opening is not nearly as eventful as the one in Sydney, but something that dominates the cityscape can't be ignored, and until the building of the Skytower in the 1990s it was Auckland's identity symbol.

There were obvious deficiencies with the bridge, reflecting politicians' usual lack of foresight, one of the most obvious can be seen by comparing the view of the Sydney bridge (from the G.B. Churchman collection, click for large view), taken the day after opening - why did the Auckland bridge have no provision for railway lines? In fairness the tramlines on the east side of the Sydney bridge gave way to road traffic lanes in the late 1950s, but the railway lines serve a major role.

The book on the Auckland bridge is available from the transpress shop.

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