The Original Harbour Bridge

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter then you may have seen some of these the other day. If you haven’t, here is a collection of some great old colour photos of the Auckland Harbour Bridge and St Mary’s Bay before they both got fatter with more traffic lanes. The images come from Denis Wilford and were taken between 1960 and 1964. It always amazes me just how slender the bridge looked back then before the clip ons and also how much space there still was around St Mary’s Bay even with the road rammed through it. In 1964 the bridge had traffic of around 22,000 vehicles per day, by comparison at its peak in 2006 it carried almost 169,000 vehicles.

The Auckland Harbour Bridge from the southern end – 1964

The Auckland Harbour Bridge from the air, with Birkenhead, Devonport and Takapuna. The Hauraki Gulf beyond – 1963

The Auckland Harbour Bridge from the air, with Birkenhead beyond and the Westhaven Marina in the foreground – 1963

The Auckland Harbour Bridge from London St – 1961

The Auckland Harbour Bridge with Auckland City beyond – 1961

On the way over the Auckland Harbour Bridge, travelling north – 1960

On the way over the bridge, travelling north, looking over to Auckland City and Westhaven Marina – 1960

The motorway from downtown Auckland City to the Auckland Harbour Bridge – 1960

The motorway from downtown Auckland City to the Auckland Harbour Bridge – 1964

16 comments to The Original Harbour Bridge

  • Christopher T

    Pretty much how I remembered it until I came back to Auckland for a period in the early 2000s: a deft structure that touched the harbour relatively lightly. It was a shock to see the carmageddon it had been turned into with clunky, over-engineered additions – not so much the Clip-on but the approach roads and all the other engineering obscenities we’ve grown accustomed to. Hopefully Skypath will restore a sense of environmental connection that’s been subsumed in the traffic sewer.

  • Tom Flynn

    The bridge actually looks ok without the clip-ons.

  • Owen Thompson

    We need to go back to a painted line separating oncoming traffic.

    • conan

      And put that traffic control tower back along with the waiting emergency vehicle to clear away the carnage that would result.

    • Ari

      And back to a road toll over 700?

      • Dave B (Wellington)

        In that case we’ve got a road transport system that is not fit for purpose in safety terms and the whole damn thing should be shut down. Like Kiwirail gets threatened with when it suffers safety lapses that are trivial in comparison.

  • Jonty

    Wow, it looks flimsy! Love the old give way sign at the on-ramp, and “EXIT 1/2 MILE”. Anyone know what the speed limit was back then?

  • How roads always start; civilised.

  • There’s now about a dozen lanes through St Mary’s Bay now. And the crazies want to add six more. This is a form of creeping madness and must be stopped.

  • Nick

    It’s amazing how different the bridge looks in profile. My initial reaction is it looks very stark and flimsy, but it’s growing on me. It is rather simple and elegant. Everything’s nice and slender, even the concrete supporting pillars.

  • doloras

    If I remember right, at that point in history, the motorway started at Cook Street/Union Street?

    • mfwic

      Yes the leaflet I have from 1971 says the Vic Park Viaduct opened April 1962 and the southern motorway off ramp to Symonds St opened December 1966 with the onramp at Symonds St opening in December 1971. So after April 62 you got on at Union pre April 62 you got on at Beaumont.

  • Amazing how low-rise Auckland was then. Still had the church spire as the tallest thing on the horizon.