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Visiting Centre Street Bridge, Calgary, Alberta: Dating From 1916, the Historic City Quadrant System's Central Point

Updated on February 11, 2020
Provincial flag of Alberta
Provincial flag of Alberta | Source
Centre Street Bridge at high water
Centre Street Bridge at high water | Source
Centre Street Bridge, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Night
Centre Street Bridge, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Night | Source

Coming and going at the very centre of things

For more than a century, Centre Street Bridge over the Bow River has stood at the very centre of things in Calgary, Alberta.

Dating from 1916, this road bridge was the work of engineer John F. Green (1), of Minnesota, who was commissioned to build what became a supremely essential piece of infrastructure after a previous bridge, the steel truss MacArthur Bridge, dating from 1907, had been destroyed in flooding. (I have supplied, below, a photographic view of the Bridge being constructed in 1915.)

Centre Street Bridge was sponsored by the City of Calgary, and is 178 metres long and 15 metres wide; this arch structure span is executed in reinforced concrete. There is also a lower deck 150 metres long and 5.5 metres wide.

Prominent features at the Bridge are four enormous concrete lions by James L. Thomson. Interestingly, these lions are based on the bronze lions which stand at the base of Nelson's Column, Trafalgar Square, London, England (2).

Other noted aspects of its design include classical balustrades and cantilevered balconies. The Bridge is included in the Canadian Register of Historic Places (3).

The Bridge was extensively refurbished in 2001.

There is a real sense in which the Centre Street Bridge is truly the city centre of Calgary: north of the Bow River, the city's grid system is calculated to be 'NE' and 'NW', east and west of the Bridge respectively; similarly, 'SE' and 'SW' are designated by being south of the river east and west of the Bridge respectively.

Centre Street Bridge has thus seen coming and going at the very centre of things for more than a century and is one of Alberta's most famous structures.

February 11, 2020

Notes

(1) Other works by Engineer John F. Green include Robert Street Bridge (1924-26) in St. Paul, Minnesota, a structure which is itself included in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places (see also Note 3, below).

(2) The original, Trafalgar Square lions are by Sir Edwin Landseer.

(3) See also: https://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=9275

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Centre Street Bridge in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Centre Street Bridge in Calgary, Alberta, Canada | Source
Centre Street Bridge lion in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Centre Street Bridge lion in Calgary, Alberta, Canada | Source
Scanned photo of Calgary's Centre Street Bridge under construction in 1915. Looking Southwest across the Bow River toward downtown
Scanned photo of Calgary's Centre Street Bridge under construction in 1915. Looking Southwest across the Bow River toward downtown | Source

Also worth seeing

The many visitor attractions in Calgary include: the Calgary Tower, Lougheed House National Historic Site and Museum, the annual Stampede, the Glenbow Museum, Nose Creek Park, sporting events at the Scotiabank Saddledome, Glenmore Reservoir and Prince's Island Park in the Bow River, which are just a few of the many visitor attractions in this fast-growing city.

From Calgary, day trips to favourite Rockies destinations such as Banff (distance: 128.7 kilometres) and Lake Louise (distance: 183.6 kilometres) are feasible.

...

How to get there: Air Canada and WestJet fly to Calgary International Airport, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. For up to date information, please check with the airline or your travel agent. Airline information at Calgary International Airport may be accessed at: http://www.yyc.com/en-us/travellerinfo/flightinformation/airlineinformation.aspx . See also: http://www.airportshuttleexpress.com/ . Both Tourism Calgary and Travel Alberta have booths at the Airport. You are advised to refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

Map location of Calgary, Alberta
Map location of Calgary, Alberta | Source

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