Unlocking North Vancouver History

Building a Vancouver Icon: The Lions Gate Bridge

North Vancouver from the Sky

The Lions Gate Bridge was built across the First Narrows, marking the entrance to Vancouver’s large natural harbour, Burrard Inlet. In this way, the span acts as a welcoming arch for ships to pass under as they enter the port. The bridge connects Stanley Park, a large forested area at the tip of the downtown peninsula (visible in the lower right), with the suburbs on the north shore slopes. In 1925 a first bridge had been built across the inlet at the Second Narrows farther east. A low road-and-rail span, it was damaged in a marine accident during the early 1930s. Residents again had to rely on ferry services — a situation that added weight and urgency to the idea of creating a First Narrows crossing. Although the Second Narrows Bridge was rebuilt, a majority voted in favour of the Lions Gate Bridge in a 1933 plebiscite.

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An aerial photo of Burrard Inlet, taken from high above English Bay and showing the extent of one of the largest natural harbours in the world.

The view is to the east, with the north shore on the left and the city centre out of the picture on the right. A piece of Stanley Park is visible in the lower right.

This photo dates from about 1950. Housing developments in North and West Vancouver had increased dramatically in the 1940s due to the new link with Vancouver.

Aero Surveys Ltd., the local company that produced the picture, pioneered the increasingly popular use of aerial-survey photography to pinpoint sites for residential and industrial development.

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