Monday, December 18, 2006

The other side of the Bridge

Abstract. A strong association between the Harbour Bridge in Sydney and the Opera House is generally perceived by the public. This short paper advocates a different approach, arguing that the Bridge can be fruitfully appreciated without any reference to the House. Indeed, we demonstrate it's the most fascinating and charming work in the Emerald city and suggest some interesting applications to foster the discovery of its many facets.

1 Introduction. The two most known monuments of Sydney are the Harbour Bridge (HB) and the Opera House (OH). Situated at the two ends of the Sydney cove, where the first fleet stopped for the first time in 1788, the two milestones are often described and photographed together. We argue that this is an infortunate habit. We feel that HB which can be seen, completely or in part, from innumerable sites in town is indeed much more fascinating and powerful. Although this might look at first as a personal impression, we give a torough discussion in favor of our viewpoint.

The paper is organized as follows. In Section 2 we describe the North side of the bridge with special reference to the experience that can be gained from Kirribilli Rd and Lavender Bay. In Section 3, a formal treatment of the view from Hickson Rd and relative piers is provided. Formally speaking, this body of notions are not taken from the _other_ side (North). Yet, this experience is often neglected in the literature and deserves a more careful consideration. Finally, Section 4 gives some conclusive remarks.

2 North Sydney Story. If you take the ferry from the mother of all quays (CQ) to Kiribilli, it's immediate to feel the omnipresence of HB. You can see the upper part of its arch from many places. The bridge clearly keeps a benevolent eye on the two pretty "pied a terre" used by the governor of NSW and the premier of Australia when in Sydney. The sardonic smile of the clown is another curious piece of architecture, in pure don't-worry-be-happy style of some decades ago. Lavender Bay completes this survey giving further unforgettable images.

3 The unexpected side. An interesting, almost on the rock(s), exploration of the often hidden side of HB can be taken walking up trough the Argyle cut toward the Miller's and Dawes point. Strictly speaking these places are not on the "other side" but despite their closeness to CBD, they tell a totally different story.

The vibrant harbour activity, with its ugly yet industrially charming, old and modern warehouses gives a new perspective on the HB. A walk along Hickson Rd, with numerous divagations along the piers, reinforce this argument. The old piers are worthwhile a visit by their own and display nice and quite respectful recent renovation work. To sum up, a quite remarkable example of successful gentrification for rather wealthy Sydneysiders in search for somewhat lateral but first class accomodation, with plenty of stylish restaurants and enchanting pubs.

4 Conclusion. The previos sections clearly demonstrate that you can do more than taking combined pictures of HB and OH. A walk on the other side, physical or emotional, can greatly enhance your fun and experience of the Bridge.

Forthcoming, "Woolloomooloo Review of Serendipitous Economics", 2006.

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