Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

Unfinished Viaduct

Since there was no cliff on the north shore, a 2,196-foot (669-m) sloping viaduct had to be built to bring the road up to bridge level. It was designed according to the maximum permissible gradient of five percent. Workers had poured the concrete pedestal foundations that can be seen in this picture for the 27 steel supports. To give the bridge pleasing visual proportions, the supports were spaced farther apart as the height rose. North of the viaduct, gravel fill carrying the roadbed completely changed the topography of the site. A concrete abutment at the end of the gravel-fill area, under construction in the foreground, marked the starting point of the steelwork; it was later covered by fill. A movable hoisting tower (in the centre-left of the photograph), which was 120 feet (37 m) high with a 75-foot (23-m) boom, ran along a rail system to lift material into place for the viaduct supports.

Photographer David Loughnan’s caption reads, “View from top of concrete abutment at end of unfinished viaduct.”

The viaduct was built on the north shore of the First Narrows, on the flood plain of the Capilano River. The reserve land belonged to the Capilano native band.

This photo was taken on March 2, 1938. The first steel to carry the viaduct was erected on November 25, 1937.

An Indian agent appointed by the Department of Indian Affairs surrendered the reserve land needed for the northern bridge approach. The Capilano Native band had no say in the approval process.

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