The Coat Hanger: An analysis of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in relation to Modernity and Postmodernity

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Katherine Sharah


The Sydney Harbour Bridge has become a recognised symbol of Sydney and Australia. Despite it being historically documented it has not been analysed in terms of specifically applying the concepts of modernity and postmodernity. This article explores the facets of the Harbour Bridge by applying modern and postmodern concepts to the historical information to gain a greater understanding of the Bridge and the present moment we live in. From this we can conclude that these concepts, although maybe not consciously in the mindset of those at the time, provided the foundations for the development of the Bridge. Modernist ideas upheld and praised science used in the Bridge construction. Progress was embraced leading to pressure from society to build the Bridge, which resulted in Sydney’s progression beyond the Bridge. Ideas of equality and secularisation were associated with the Bridge. A renewed interest in the history of the Bridge resulted from postmodern ideas of looking back upon the past however this raises questions of exploiting the past. The Bridge can be understood as a site of chaos from a postmodern view as it takes on multiple meanings. Sydney would not be as we know it today without the influence of these concepts.

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