Brisbane’s most celebrated bridge, the Story Bridge, was designed by local-born engineer John Bradfield, already well known for his work overseeing the construction of another famous crossing in Sydney. Commissioned by the Government as a depression-era public works project as much as a transport one, the Story Bridge is some 1072m long, and spans the Brisbane River with a clearance of more than 30m. The bridge is of steel cantilever construction. For a few early years the Story Bridge was a toll road, but today carries six lanes of traffic without charge, as well as pedestrians and cyclists on paths fixed to either side of the structure. More adventurous walkers have the opportunity to climb 74m above the river to the very top of the bridge, as the Story Bridge is one of the world’s few bridge climbs. The eponymous Story Bridge Hotel lies beneath and only just to one side of the bridge’s southern approaches, after the alignment was noticeably kinked to save the hotel from demolition. The bridge itself is named after public servant J.D.Story.
about the listing
|address||Bradfield Highway (Brisbane River), Fortitude Valley to Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, Qld|
|citymaker(s)||JJC Bradfield, Queensland Government|
Average user rating from: 2 user(s)
May 26, 2010
The Story Bridge ties the eastern bit of Brisbane together. I love catching a glimpse of it when I'm not expecting to - suddenly I can orientate myself to the river and understand the city a bit more. And it's many colours in the evening as the sky changes, the moon comes out, and the bridge's lights stand out. It's like Brisbane's hanging out the fairy lights to welcome folk to a modest celebration. But perhaps one of its best features, for a four (or is it six?) lane road bridge, is that you can get up to it, over it, and under it easily on bike or on foot. It's a keeper. Defines Brisbane more, is more useful, than Go Between or Gateway 2 can or will.
Many people have a favourite song. Maybe even you. Of course there are many reasons why you might have this particular affection. It could be the melody, lyrics, or maybe the instruments. The song might remind you of a special time with a special person, or perhaps the lead singer whom you used to fancy. There are many reasons. You might have a favourite book too, or day of the week, or even a much-loved pair of socks. Other people might think you are mad, but you have your reasons.
There are many reasons too why we might like the Story Bridge.
There’s the form, elegant and shapely, drooping low like a string of lights at a garden party. The lattice of steelwork is at odds with the tall corporate offices opposite, their boardrooms crowding the riverside for the best views, and at odds with the few remaining tin and timber Queenslanders creaking with age below the bridge at KP. It’s at odds with the design of most of the city’s monuments. Big and steel and horizontal in a city of small and low, or big and vertical. But it works. And that’s not the real reason.
There’s the views to consider. The Story Bridge has got the most spectacular digs in town, on the tightest hairpin bend the river can muster, stretching from the cliffs at Bowen Terrace. From the bridge, never mind the bridge climb, the panorama is almost too much to take in. There’s a postcard city vista on one side, suburbs and the bay on the other. From the top, the thin finger of land that is Kangaroo Point seemingly grows from the roots of the bridge below. A sightseeing degustation.
From the other point of view, this bridge is simply one of the most sighted sights around. You can see it from city buildings (if you’re lucky), from the street, from Citycat or kayak on the water, from staked-out vantage points on Riverfire night, and even from the air if a flightpath takes you near the city. But that’s not the reason either.
The real reason we like the Story Bridge is this. It’s a bridge that truly speaks of it time. The intricate steel trusses and rivets are so clearly man-made. To Gen X or Y this is a baffling triumph of skill from a pre-digital age. The Story Bridge is a critical city artery yet by modern standards completely impractical, requiring constant attention to its vast painted surface. The narrow footpaths cause weaving and dodging. In the outside road lanes, steel beams dip below truck height. Flashing signs try to warn off the unwary. It’s big and it’s striking and it’s old. We need it and we like it so it works.