Completed in 1932 to provide a highlevel crossing to the western neighbourhoods, the bridge is a triumph of civic architecture and a key gateway structure.
Architects Sharp and Thompson, conscious of the bridge’s ceremonial ‘gateway’ function, embellished the utilitarian steel superstructure with imposing concrete towers, torch-like entrance pylons, and art deco sculptural details.
Unifying the parts are heavy concrete railings, originally topped by decorative street lamps. To facilitate cyclist and pedestrian use, the previous City Council was considering demolition of the concrete railings and the addition of ‘outrigger’ sidewalks. Without the original railings, the bridge will lose its strong edges, and its architectural features will be isolated. The proposed outrigger structures will radically alter the external appearance of this landmark structure.
A coalition of stakeholders, including Heritage Vancouver, has written the present Council stating that the proposals are unacceptable — from both a transportation and heritage perspective. The coalition is asking Council to consider instead dedicating the two outer traffic lanes to non-motorized traffic, a solution that would involve little alteration to the bridge itself. Other non-intrusive options could also be considered.