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Blog post from Thursday, 19 March, 2015

On this day, 19 March 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge was officially opened.

Construction of the bridge began in 1924, and took 1400 men eight years to build at a cost of £4.2 million. Sixteen lives were lost during its construction, while up to 800 families living in the path of the proposed Bridge path were relocated and their homes demolished when construction started.

The arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was built in two halves cantilevering from each shore and tying each half back by steel cables that were anchored into U-shaped tunnels excavated into the sandstone rock. Construction of the two halves of the arch began late in 1928, and the two halves were properly joined on 19 August 1930.

The official opening of the bridge occurred on 19 March 1932. A crowd of 300,000 waited for Premier Jack Lang to officially open the bridge, but Francis de Groot, a member of the New Guard militia group, charged forward on a horse, slashed the ribbon and declared the bridge open.

De Groot was dragged from the horse and later charged with offensive behaviour, the ribbon was retied and the bridge was then officially opened.

The State Library of New South Wales has digitised a large collection of photographs from the collection, which depict the celebrations on that day, including a large procession and opening ceremony.

The State Library of New South Wales also holds a collection of material pertaining to Francis de Groot, including photographs, letters and his autobiography