The Lions Gate Bridge is an iconic suspension bridge that connects Vancouver to North Vancouver at the entrance to the Port of Vancouver. It spans the '1st Narrows' of Burrard Inlet. The Vancouver side of the bridge is connected to Stanley Park.
The bridge was built during the depression and was one of the largest depression era projects in Canada. The bridge was built and financed privately to gain easier access to property in West and North Vancouver so that it could be developed. A.J. Taylor was the engineer and main proponent of building the bridge. He owned land in North Vancouver. Part of the financing came from the Guiness family of Guiness Beer fame!
The Stanley Park Causeway was built as part of the Lions Gate Bridge project. The causeway runs through Stanley Park and over the bridge is a major transportation artery officially named Highway 1A/99A.
Currently, the bridge has 3 vehicle lanes and sidewalks on each side. There is a counterflow system that allows them to change the lanes to have 2 lanes in either direction which they usually change during rush hour to help traffic flow.
We will give you a brief History of the Lions Gate Bridge. There are a number of Plaques at the entrance to the bridge that also provide some history. Also, we have some Interesting Facts that you probably didn't know!
To see what is happening on the Lions Gate Bridge and whether it is closed or not, check out the Lions Gate Bridge Traffic Cameras.
It took 2 plebicites to make get approval to build the bridge. The 1st plebicite failed. The 2nd plebicite passed because it was the depression and people wanted the jobs that would be created. There was initial opposition to building a road through Stanley Park and by the Canadian Pacific Railway which owned lots of land in downtown vancouver.
Construction began on March 31, 1937.
It was designed by the firm of Monsarrat & Pratley. It is a suspension bridge with 2 large towers. It has a total length of 1517 metres (including approach spans).
Some of the engineering feats of the bridge were a thin road deck and prefabricated cable strands.
It was completed on November 14th 1938 for a total cost of less than $6 million. It was the largest suspension bridge in the British Empire when it opened.
The bridge was officially opened by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on on May 29, 1939.
The bridge was purchased from the private company that owned it in 1955 for $5,873,837.17 which is the exact amount that it cost to build it!
The Lions Gate Bridge was originally only 2 lanes. A third lane was put in in 1955. So, the lanes are a little narrow.
The Lions Gate Bridge was originally a toll bridge charging 25 cents. In 1963, the toll was removed.
Lights were installed on the bridge to illuminate the cables in 1986. They were a generous gift from the Guiness family for Expo 86 and the centennial of the City of Vancouver.
Maintenance costs of the bridge were starting to become expensive so in 1999-2001 the entire bridge deck was replaced. The replacement was unique because pieces of the bridge deck were cut and lowered down to the water, then a new section of bridge deck was raised up and attached to the bridge. Most of the work was done at night allowing cars to use the bridge during the day!
The bridge was designated the 'Lions Gate Bridge National Historic Site of Canada' in 2004.
Around 2011 the City of Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia made an agreement that when a 3rd crossing of Burrard Inlet is built that cars may be banned from the Lions Gate Bridge.
In 2020, there was a group that was proposing a tourist attraction where people could climb up the inside of one of the towers to get a great view. However, this idea was not allowed to go through because of the possibility of distracting drivers from the road when driving over the bridge.
Check out what is happening on the Lions Gate Bridge and whether traffic is moving or not on it by viewing the Traffic Cameras.
There are a number of plaques at the Vancouver side entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge.
The plaque says:
Lions Gate Bridge
Rehabilitation completed December 2001
Owner's Engineer: N.D. Lea Consultants Inc.
Designer and Owners' Bridge Engineer: Buckland & Taylor LTD.
Contractor: American Bridge / Surespan - A Joint Venture
The plaque says:
The Lion's Gate Bridge was illuminated on Feb 19, 1986 by the honourable William R. Bennett, premier of the Province of British Columbia, the right honourable the Earl of Iveagh and the honourable and Mrs. Erskine Guiness whose generosity on behalf of the Guiness family made possible this commemoration of Expo 86 and the centennial of the City of Vancouver.
The plaque says:
The Lions' Gate Bridge
Completed November 14th 1938
Designing and Supervisory Engineers: Monsarret and Pratley
Associate Engineer: W. G. Swan
Consulting Engineer: Robinson & Steinman
Contractors: Stuart Cameron & Co. Ltd.
Dominion Bridge Co. - Hamilton Bridge Co. Ltd.
Owners: British Columbia Toll Highways and Bridges Authority
The plaque says:
This table was erected to commemorate the visit of their majesties King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Vancouver on May 29th 1939 when their majesties crossed this Lions Gate Bridge.
The plaque says:
National Historic Civil Engineering Site
The Lions' Gate Bridge
A tribute to the engineers who built and renovated this bridge, the landmark structure of the Vancouver Area.
When opened in 1938, the 1550 ft. main span was the longest suspension span outside the United States. Design engineer: P.L. Pratley (Monsarrat & Pratley), Steel Contractor: The Dominion Bridge Co. Ltd.
The complete structure suspended from the two main cables was replaced in 2001, while remaining open to traffic by day. A world's first. Design Engineers: Buckland & Taylor Ltd., Contractor: American Bridge/Surespan Joint Venture, Owner: The Government of British columbia
Canadian Society for Civil Engineering, 2006
There are 2 (one on each side) Art Deco Lion Statues at the entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge in Stanley Park. These statues were made by reknown sculptor Charles Marega.
Charles Marega created a number of notable statues in Vancouver. He wanted to do the lions statues in bronze but wasn't given enough money to do so. He died 2 months after the statues were installed. He died with only $8 to his name so he was a struggling artist!
The Museum of Vancouver has one of Marega's original models of the Lion in their collection.
There is a small lion statue on the overpass over the Stanley Park Causeway near the Lions Gate bridge. This statue is also of art deco design. We are not sure if this was also done by Charles Marega or not, but it looks a lot like the model that is in the Museum of Vancouver.
A.J. Taylor's baby shoes are inside one of the lion figures in front of the south end of the bridge.
The shipping lane under the bridge was only closed for 1 hour during the entire construction of the bridge.
A.J. Taylor died in New York City in 1945. His ashes were scattered from the Lions Gate Bridge.
Here are the frequently asked questions about the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, BC, Canada.
The Lions Gate Bridge was built from 1937-1938.
Construction started in March 1937 and the bridge opened on November 12, 1938. It was officially opened on May 29, 1939.
It is named after 'the Lions' which are two peaks in mountains in North Vancouver directly in front of the bridge. The 2 peaks look like lions sitting on the ground.
The Lions Gate Bridge goes between Vancouver and North Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.
The province of British Columbia owns the Lions Gate bridge now. Originally, it was owned by a consortium which included the Guiness Brewing Company. It was purchased by the province in 1955.
The bridge was built by a business consortium put together by Alfred J.T. Taylor and which included the Guiness Brewing company as a financier.
The movie Final Destination 5 showed the Lions Gate Bridge collapsing. This was just special effects. The Lions Gate Bridge did not collapse!
The Lions Gate Bridge has actually been in a number of movies including: TRON:Legacy, Deadpool 2, and The Sixth Day.
Yes, you can walk across the Lions Gate Bridge. It has sidewalks on both sides. If you do walk across the bridge please watch out for bicycles.
Yes, you can bicycle across the Lions Gate Bridge. There are sidewalks on both sides of the Lions Gate Bridge and Stanley Park Causeway.
Use the East sidewalk to go to North Vancouver. Use the West sidewalk to go to Vancouver.
The Lions Gate Bridge was built because the developers owned land in West Vancouver and wanted better access to their land so that they could make their land worth more. Prior to the bridge being built people had to take boats across the water.
The Guiness family of Guiness Beer fame owned a development called the 'British Properties' in West Vancouver that the bridge would provide better access to. They were one of the financiers of the project.
The total length of the Lions Gate Bridge (including approach spans) is 1517 metres.
A business consortium that included the main engineer, Alfred J.T. Taylor, and the Guiness Brewing company paid $5,873,837.17 to build the bridge. They later sold it to the province for the same amount.
Prospect Point is close to the entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge in Stanley Park. There is a lookout there with great views of the Lions Gate Bridge, West Vancouver, and the ocean! As well there is a restaurant, cafe, gift shop, washrooms, and 2 monuments.