This is a quick sketch of the view below Vancouver's Lions Gate Bridge as seen from the seawall in Stanley Park. Structures like this fascinate me. Thousands of tons of steel suspended in the air, held up by cables hundreds of metres in the air, vehicles and passengers crossing it every day. It's an amazing sight from both below and from above the road surface. When you're looking up from underneath you can clearly see all the support beams and how the weight has been been distributed; you hear the rumbling of tires over grated steel as vehicles move over each section.

Completed in 1938, the Lions Gate Bridge spans the First Narrows section of Burrard Inlet, linking the city of Vancouver with the municipalities of North Vancouver and West Vancouver on the northern shore of the Inlet. The construction of the bridge was made possible by a purchase of land by the Guinness family, the same family related to the famous Irish beer. Together with other entrepreneurs, in the late 20s and early 30s they bought a large tract of land on the mountainside in West Vancouver. This allowed the project to proceed, as many local residents and business people were originally against the idea and had voted against it.

The bridge is popularly known as the Lions Gate, because it points in the direction of the Lions, two mountain peaks north of Vancouver.

The other day, I rode my bicycle across it. There is a separate sidewalk and bike lane on either side of the road surface. Only a handrail remains between the bridge and the empty space below. For someone like me who's not comfortable with heights, it takes a bit of courage to ride your bike next to that rail, but the view is spectacular.

Here's an overhead look , taken by a photographer in a seaplane landing in Vancouver harbour:

The bridge is a classic Vancouver landmark. On the day I rode across it, I was headed back downtown when I saw a large cruise ship leaving harbour. I stopped my bike, leaned it against the railing and waited for the ship to pass underneath. With a couple of pedestrians who had also stopped halfway across the bridge, I peered down on the thousands of people who were enjoying the view of the coastal mountains from the deck of the Norwegian Sun. Young people were playing basketball on deck in an enclosed area and the swimming pool was busy; but mostly passengers had gathered in the upper decks in the front of the ship or on their private balconies to get a last look of Vancouver as they headed off either to Alaska or down the coast to California, I don't know which. Everyone waved. The great ship passed. I carefully got back on my bike and headed downhill into the coolness of the forest in Stanley Park.


Aerial photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
For a related story on Stanley Park , see this post.

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