Vancouver’s Signature Bridges by Cycling or Walking. Part I

"Spanning Time". By Bruce Walther (2005). Corner of West  Georgia & Howe St. Vancouver, BC. Depicts Lions Gate Bridge from  Prospect Point.

"Spanning Time". By Bruce Walther (2005). Corner of West Georgia & Howe St. Vancouver, BC. Depicts Lions Gate Bridge from Prospect Point. Photo by John Steil, co-author for book, "Public Art in Vancouver: Angels Among Lions". On 500+ works of public art.

Not only is Vancouver, Canada’s western gateway for international commercial ships and some cruise ships, it is also a city of major  bridges.  Several of these iconic bridges, both big and small, define Vancouver’s landscape, urban history and have inspired artists in their local artwork.

Lion’s Gate Bridge first opened in 1938 with later, a major deck retrofit in the 1990’s. It spans over the Burrard Inlet from Stanley Park to the North Shore.  With the retrofit, now cyclists, joggers  and pedestrians are better protected from car traffic in both directions by road barriers. Most certainly, there are stunning views along the bridge and elsewhere at different lookout spots by Prospect Point in Stanley Park.  Just recently in May 2010, the West Vancouver Historical Society held a small public event commemorating the national significance of this historic bridge with unveiling of a plaque.  Check here for bridge historic highlights.

Lions Gate Bridge from Prospect Point in Stanley Park. Vancouver,  BC 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Lions Gate Bridge from Prospect Point in Stanley Park. Vancouver, BC 2010. Photo by J. Chong

This article profiles one of the surviving engineers, now 101 yrs. old, who worked on the bridge in the 1930’s. He would make a mind-boggling, scary catwalk over the unfinished bridge deck for his work commute!

Burrard Bridge, was built completed in 1932.   You can see from different locations along the Seawall path in Stanley Park and at Granville Market.   It is one of the few preserved Art Deco road bridges in the world. The concrete

Burrard Bridge, Vancouver BC 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Burrard Bridge, Vancouver BC 2010. Photo by J. Chong

sculptures of early pioneers, Captain George Vancouver and Sir Harry Burrard rise above from their boat hulls and adorn each side of the bridge.  Please note that Sir Burrard never travelled close to Vancouver. Captain Vancouver was just honouring a pal of his when Sir Burrard was his lieutenant.

The Burrard Bridge is currently used by cars as well as cyclists, joggers and pedestrians in separated protected lanes. By the end of Aug. 2010,  1.3 million cyclists crossed this bridge — over 12 months after the hotly debated lanes were installed.

From the bridge, there are great photo-snapping views of English Bay, the inlet, North Shore Mountains and Granville Market.  You can also walk or bike underneath the bridge for different views and roll by the waterfront. Burrard Bridge is a visual gateway between Kitsalano neighbourhood and False Creek, as well as the downtown areas.

 

"Fireworks over English Bay". By Bruce Walther (2009). On northeast corner of  Burrard and Pacific St. Vancouver, BC 2010. Photo by J. Chong

"Fireworks over English Bay". By Bruce Walther (2009). On northeast corner of Burrard and Pacific St. Vancouver, BC. Photo by J. Chong

You cannot stop a car in the middle of either Lions Gate Bridge nor Burrard Bridge. So walk or bike for the most scenic photos along the bridge.

There are some Vancouver outdoor public art works which integrates the imagery of each bridge. It is possible to see these emblematic bridges plus the art mosaics shown in this blog post.  If you have a few hours, walk, take public transit or more efficiently, bike the routes shown in the map here. You won’t regret the inspiring views, outdoor art discoveries as well as visits to Stanley Park, Museum of Vancouver and Granville Market enroute.

Granville Bridge. From Granville Market looking towards North False Creek. Vancouver, BC 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Granville Bridge. From Granville Market looking towards North False Creek. Vancouver, BC 2010. Photo by J. Chong

Note:  Granville Bridge and Cambie Bridge may not be as architecturally scenic, but they each still offer panoramic  city views.  Cambie Bridge has protected bike and pedestrian lanes in both directions.  Click here for Vancouver’s bike map.

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