Friday, June 13, 2008

The Burrard Street Bridge

We're moored in False Creek between the Granville Street Bridge and the Burrard Street Bridge; closer to the Burrard Street Bridge. Over the years we seem to have developed a personal relationship with the Burrard Street Bridge. She stands there in her Art Deco majesty, imposing and dominating our wheelhouse view when we're at the dock.

A few years ago they did seismic upgrades on her and for 2 1/2 years we watched intently while the workmen scaled her stanchions and graded gravel around her footings. Every day they were out there shouting at each other over the roar of the graders. Across the water sound carries and we could hear them like they were in our back yard; which I guess they were.

On a regular basis we hear "shouters" crossing the Bridge screaming their demented anger at the Gods. It's not uncommon to hear a lone person shouting about the injustices of the world from up-top her walkways. Occasionally there's a jumper and traffic slows and Police cars and boats surround the poor soul.

"It's because St. Paul's Hospital is just down the street", we were told by one of the Fishermen. "They get the bad news and then walk down to the Bridge."

By contrast though, the Sun Run flows across the Bridge 50,000 strong bringing hope. Hundreds of boats flow under the Bridge each Symphony of Fire night to watch the display. Protestors march across the Bridge from time to time, and banners are thrown over her side urging freedom for various good and sundry causes. We stand on the deck of our boat and watch humanity in it's many guises and the Bridge continues, silent, imposing, towering.

We've taken countless pictures of the Bridge (see Bridges) and still it fascinates us.

Several years ago we went for a boat trip to Chatterbox Falls in the Princess Louisa Inlet. Yachters from around the globe agree this trip is one of the best boat trips in the World. Royalty and movie stars make the trip! We anchored just south of the falls and listened to it's roar for 3 days. Upon coming home we both noticed the Bridge sounds very much like a large waterfall. It's so much nicer to take in the ambient noise as something imposing and wonderful rather than a City annoyance.

Wikipedia tells us: The Burrard Street Bridge is a six lane, 1932 Art Deco style, steel truss bridge in Vancouver, British Columbia. This high, five-part bridge on four piers spans False Creek, connecting that city's downtown with Kitsilano. Its two close approach spans are Warren deck-trusses, while its central span reverses to a through Pratt truss, to allow shipping. The central span is masked on both sides by extensions of its masonry piers into imposing concrete towers, connected by overhead galleries, which are embellished with architectural and sculptural details, creating a torch-like entrance of pylons. Originally unifying the long approaches and the distinctive central span were heavy concrete railings, topped by decorative street lamps. Busts of Captain George Vancouver and Sir Harry Burrard-Neale in ship prows jut from the bridge’s superstructure (a V under Vancouver’s bust, a B under Burrard’s). The design architect was George Lister Thornton Sharp, the engineer John R. Grant.

On a bus tour of Vancouver with a friend a couple of years ago, the tour operator said something about the then Mayor of Vancouver telling the people that if Vancouver wanted to have tourists then they'd have to build beautiful bridges. The Burrard Bridge was the result. We searched the internet for the quote but couldn't find it.

We're lucky to have lived in a place long enough to have developed a kinship with a Bridge. Not many people have that opportunity! One day we'll move away from her and miss the comforting background roar but until that happens we'll continue to enjoy her implacable commanding presence.

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