Cambie Bridge looking north

This image isn’t lined up correctly with the 1904 picture. That’s because, when they replaced the Connaught Bridge over False Creek at Cambie Street, they built the new bridge parallel with the old, then demolished the earlier structure. As a result we’re a bridge-width-and-a-bit too far to the west. Here’s another Archives image from the early 1980s that shows the approach area for the new bridge being cleared alongside the old bridge (which the photographer is standing on). The rest of the waterfront here was still industrial, with the land once occupied by a railyard, a sawmill and lumberyard. On the other side of the bridge (the east side) was a cooperage.

We’re also probably at slightly the wrong elevation, as there was less clearance on the old bridge. Instead it had a swing span to allow shipping to navigate to the end of False Creek. That was necessary for many years because there was a concrete batching plant there until the land was used for Expo 86.

The sidewalk of the old bridge lined up almost perfectly with Holy Rosary Cathedral – although it was only the parish church until 1916 (designed by T E Julian). It had a second, lower, spire, long gone. Almost all the tall buildings in the city at the time were churches, and almost all of them are no longer standing. One tall building that wasn’t a church is a tower on the mid-left of the picture. It looks like a square church tower, but there wasn’t a church in that part of town, so it had us confused for a while. Poring over an early panorama, and the insurance maps revealed that it’s the hose tower of Firehall No. 2, designed by W T Whiteway in 1902, on Seymour Street, although the tower was at the back of the building, on the lane.

Even after the boom at the end of the first decade of the 20th century, not too many buildings stood tall on the skyline because the new office buildings like The Sun Tower and the Dominion Building were down the hill on the other side of Downtown, mostly near West Hastings. The Vancouver Block on Granville was at a higher elevation, along with the second Hotel Vancouver. By the early 1980s there were a cluster of taller commercial and office buildings marking the Downtown Business core, with a few others like the BC Electric headquarters, (and later the Nelson Square tower nearby on Hornby). In the years following Expo, and continuing through to today, Concord Pacific have developed thousands of condominiums along the waterfront former Expo lands, and other developers have filled in behind, so today almost all the buildings seen from here are residential, although in behind there are far more office and hotel towers in the Downtown Central Business District as well.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Br P25 and CVA 800-2878


Posted December 30, 2019 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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