Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

Lions Gate Bridge Completed

The bridge was finished months ahead of schedule, due in part to good weather and an absence of construction glitches. It featured four observation platforms outside the trusses and a signal-control booth in the middle, where staff worked Morse-code lamps to regulate ships passing below. Here you can see the original, generous two-lane arrangement for auto traffic, later reconfigured into three narrow lanes. Sixty sodium-vapour lamps lit up the roadway at night. During the official opening ceremony on May 26, 1939, bridge entrepreneur A. J. T. Taylor offered this high-flown commentary:

“A lusty child has been born, richly endowed in capacity to render service for long years ahead. Unlike a human child, it cannot be spoilt by neglect or even by a complete disregard of its spiritual significance. It will go on contributing to the happiness of millions long after its creators are buried and forgotten.”

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WHAT
This is a view of the finished bridge just before it opened to vehicle traffic.

WHERE
This picture looks north from the shipping-traffic control booth at the centre of the span. This signalling station was required by the National Harbours Board.

WHEN
This photograph was taken in October of 1939.

WHO
The population took to the bridge right away; one million vehicles crossed the Lions Gate Bridge in its first year of operation, an average of 2,800 per day.

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