Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

Empress of Japan Sails Under the Bridge

The suspension cables for the road deck were turned into ladders by hammering in crossbars at 15-inch (38-cm) intervals. Each of the vertical cables was made of 163 wires, with a final diameter of 1.75 inches (4.45 cm). One by one, sections of roadbed and Warren truss were hoisted into place from a scow and hung from the steel suspension ropes. Each weighed 1,572 tons (1,426 t). Work began in the centre of the span and moved outward. The trusses stabilized the hanging bridge, preventing twisting or buckling. On October 12, 1963, the bridge withstood Hurricane Frieda, which flattened swaths of old-growth timber in Stanley Park. Clearance at the middle of the span was calculated to be 200 feet (61 m) at maximum high tide. For the sake of economy, the bridge deck descended from the middle to either end in almost straight lines instead of the usual curve.

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The Canadian Pacific Railway’s Empress of Japan ocean liner passes below the first sections of roadway being suspended from the two main cables.

This photo was taken from the long north beach of Stanley Park, which became a favourite vantage point for Vancouverites seeking to watch the bridge construction.

This picture was taken on June 15, 1938. It took 12 days to hang 174 sections of roadbed and truss.

Noted local photographer Leonard Frank took many photographs of the bridge construction.

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