Burrard Bridge

The Burrard Bridge was built between 1930 and 1932 This image was photographed some time in the 1940s, when the new connection across False Creek still hadn’t prompted redevelopment along Burrard. Today the concrete piers of the bridge, with their art deco lanterns, seem insignificant, but in earlier days they stood out.

In our bridge photo the houses on the east side of the 1300 block were built in the early 1900s. The first six, to the north had been completed by 1904. We’ve lost most of the permits up to 1908, when there were 13 houses (the full block), so we don’t know who built most of them. The first house on Burrard was developed in 1905, cost $2,000 and was built by Jacob Hoffmeister, who was 26 that year, and had moved into the house by 1906.

He was one of six Hoffmeister Brothers, several of them electricians and later involved in the early motor trade. From Ontario, all six accompanied their father (and two sisters) west. Reinhart and Jacob were both involved with Hoffmeister Electric, a company that specialized in the design, construction, and installation of electric generators, often in very large industrial businesses. The company was founded in 1898, and finally closed in 1960.

His neighbour was Ansil Thatcher, a machinist, who had carried out alterations to his home in 1907. He was from Williamstown, in Michigan, and said he was 29 when he married Elizabeth Dickie who was 22 and from New Brunswick in 1900 in Vancouver. (Actually he was 4 years older).

Before the bridge was built, as we noted in earlier posts, Burrard Street was ridiculously wide for a residential street that didn’t lead anywhere (except to a small wharf). Here’s a 1923 image showing the street north from West Georgia. Today it’s part of the Central Business District, but then, not so much.

The bridge was designed by G L Thornton Sharp, of Sharp and Thompson, working with John R Grant, its engineer. Some of the bridge’s steelwork was clad in art deco towers, and the detailing on the light columns and lanterns (which were purely decoration) matches. The structure is a hybrid of various bridge types, and was designed for a possible lift span for a rail crossing under the deck, that was never built. It was built with six lanes that could theoretically carry traffic volumes that have never existed. A redesign in the past decade saw the addition of first one, and then a second protected bicycle lane, and replacement lighting and new fences on the outer edges, as well as extensive seismic upgrades.

Image sources: CVA 1184-1697 and CVA Str N180


Posted 23 December 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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