Letters

Petition to Heritage Designate the Pattullo Bridge

I’m not the only writer or historian to bring forth the Pattullo Bridge’s lengthy history.

But today I would like to ask the powers that be why in this history-conscious city is our largest heritage structure not heritage designated?

Our bridge is described at www.historicbridges.org as having complete dedication to its original design, even suggesting that the Lions Gate Bridge’s alterations can’t hold a candle to the historical merit of the Pattullo.

My research showed me that the Pattullo and its Australian sister, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, represent a rare steel-trussed-through-arch bridge design, with deck truss spans that give a smooth flowing main arch connection with great visual beauty by V-lacing and lattice work.

It is quoted as being “geometric art.”

Without major alterations, these two bridges stand as technologically influential structures by design and construction within bridge classification, holding great historical integrity worldwide. TransLink has its priorities and they are important, but the historical legacy of our bridge must be considered when protecting its beauty and rareness as a historical monument to Canada.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge is praised for its rare heritage merit as a cultural treasure, becoming famous throughout the world of bridge engineering. Historically, compared to other bridge types of their age, Sydney’s and ours are the perfect design of “beauty and grace.”

Built by Dominion Bridge Co. of Montreal, the Pattullo opened in 1937 with great ceremony during the height of the Great Depression. Its elegant arched design and expensive materials made it a politically symbolic structure for the premier of the day, Thomas Dufferin (Duff) Pattullo, who named the bridge after himself. “Duff”, a “New Deal” style of Liberal politician, used the bridge as a make-work project.

After opening, approximately 5,000 vehicles a day made the crossing. In the beginning, you could pull over on the bridge, park your car, get out and walk around, and look at the commanding view of the river and the two cities framing it, without worry of getting hit by oncoming traffic or getting surrounded by police cars and sirens. The tolls began on opening day at midnight, not stopping until Feb. 12, 1952. Funnily, the bridge soon acquired the nickname “Pay-Toll-O.”

Today, this bridge continues to be a major link for all of Metro Vancouver.

Duff Pattullo wanted the Pattullo Bridge designed to accommodate future traffic needs. Unfortunately, it is Metro Vancouver’s growth that has pushed it to the brink of making it obsolete for high levels of traffic.

Duff never saw this coming. So it’s up to us to make a new city plan, to make this our most monumental historically designated structural landmark.

I heritage designated my home to protect it for the city.

Now I’d like to apply for heritage designation of our Pattullo Bridge.

Katherine Freund-Hainsworth

New Westminster

 

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