Lions Gate Bridge


LIONS GATE BRIDGE spans the First Narrows at the entrance to BURRARD INLET and connects VANCOUVER to its North Shore suburbs, N VANCOUVER and W VANCOUVER. The bridge was built during the depths of the Depression by a financial consortium, organized by engineer Alfred James Towle TAYLOR and backed by Guinness, the British brewing family, which wished to provide access to its BRITISH PROPERTIES residential development in W Vancouver. It is a suspension bridge, modelled on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The proposal to build it encountered stiff opposition because it would be necessary to construct a roadway through the heart of STANLEY PARK, but it was finally approved because it offered jobs to unemployed workers. The span opened to pedestrians on 12 Nov 1938 and to vehicles 2 days later, and the owners of the bridge collected a toll from drivers. The provincial government purchased the bridge in 1955; tolls were discontinued in 1963. In 1986, as part of Vancouver's centennial, the bridge was illuminated with decorative lighting, nicknamed "Gracie's Necklace" after MLA Grace McCARTHY, whose idea it was to approach the Guinness family to pay for the lights. By the 1990s the bridge had deteriorated and the provincial government, after much public debate, decided to renew the structure rather than replace it.
Reading: Lilia D'Acres and Donald Luxton, Lions Gate, 1999.