Sydney Harbor Bridge: The 90th Birthday and the Unsolved Mystery of the Photographer – Panorama – Society

The Harbor Bridge in Sydney is a massive structure. It is the world’s largest steel arch bridge, despite not being the longest. It connects the city center to the metropolis’s north. It has been one of Sydney’s most important hubs since its inception on March 19, 1932.

Employees of Sydney’s State Library discovered previously undisclosed historical images shot during the bridge’s eight-year building period just before the bridge’s milestone birthday. A photographer, one of the few women who assisted in the construction of the bridge, took the images.

Kathleen Butler, head engineer John Bradfield’s secretary, is also worth mentioning, in addition to the photographer, known as Mrs Frank Smith. Butler is reported to have created most of the legislation that allowed the bridge to be built, as well as assisting Bradfield in setting specifications for the bridge and managing contract bidding. The Australian publication Blue Mountain Echo once said, “If John Bradfield is the father of the bridge, Kathleen Butler is the godmother.”

The photographer’s true identity is being sought by the State Library.

Vera Lawson, who worked for the British engineering firm that won the tender to build the bridge, was another woman who contributed to its construction. She computed the company’s payroll, invoices, workers’ compensation, and volume estimates.

Along with Smith, Butler and Lawson are two additional women who, despite their significant contributions, received little attention. Kathleen Butler had to quit working when she married, demonstrating how little women were valued in society 90 years ago. The fact that the bridge photographer’s identity is merely listed as Mrs Frank Smith is also a marker of the times.

The State Library of NSW is now on the hunt for the photographer’s true identity, as he is known to have traveled by boat to capture the images that have become crucial historical documents. A spokesman for the state library remarked, “We know that Mrs Frank Smith was an amateur photographer who had frequent access to the Harbor Bridge.”

Mrs Smith was frequently there during the construction activity, as evidenced by her photographs, and strolled straight between the employees. “I was on the bridge at midday,” she said, referring to a photo in her album that shows her on the shell surrounded by male workmen. Mrs Smith was also well-dressed in the photograph, indicating that she came from a rich family.

This is further bolstered by the fact that photography was a costly hobby at the time. Mrs Frank Smith was an educated woman, as evidenced by a poem in the album, in which she characterizes the bridge as a “arch of power and beauty” and a “majestic” structure, and thanks the men who “planned” and “constructed” it for “creating.”

The album of Mrs. Smith was misfiled at the library.

The fact that the images have only recently surfaced is owing to a library cataloging error, not to the quality of the recordings. She is described as a brilliant and award-winning amateur by the Sydney Morning Herald. When the State Library’s collection was relocated during the epidemic, curator Margot Riley discovered Mrs Smith’s album in the wrong category.

“I was thinking, ‘Wow, this is completely new,'” says the author. The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Margot Riley as saying. Some of the shots are reminiscent of professional photographer Harold Cazneaux’s melancholy bridge images with foggy skies.

Mrs. Frank Smith’s photo album, which was donated to the library in 1937, will be on display in one of the State Library’s galleries beginning Saturday to honor the bridge’s 90th anniversary of opening. Simultaneously, the library, in collaboration with the daily newspaper, is attempting to uncover the mystery of who was behind the moniker Mrs. Frank Smith.

By Editor

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