Skyline: On the Cusp

CVA 780-492 East False Creek, 1983?

CVA 780-492 East False Creek, 1983?

Within a few years of the approximate date of this image (1983), Vancouver’s downtown skyline along False Creek would change, utterly. A key change driver would be Expo ’86 and all of the building that followed in its wake. A significant part of the construction was happening at the time of the photo in the foreground of the image (and a bit to the left) where the geodesic dome of Expo Centre – later ScienceWorld – was being built on the former industrial lands (not least of cooperages) of east False Creek. Other related – although more temporary – Expo structures were being constructed in the centre foreground. BC Place (construction completed 1983 — albeit with its less-hip, bubble-roof) was being completed just to the top right and just out of the photo’s frame (note a cluster of construction cranes there). Expo’s Plaza of Nations is not identifiable yet, nor, of course, are the towering condo developments of Concord Pacific (which would begin to pop up in the 1990s and are still going up today, thanks to a controversial post-Expo land purchase by Hong Kongese billionaire Li Ka-shing). Even the bridge in the mid-distance (not the much higher Granville Bridge nearer the the horizon line), which a casual glance might identify as the Cambie Bridge, is not what it seems; in fact, it pre-dates the Cambie by at least two years (construction finished 1985). The bridge in fact is the Connaught, a swing-span bridge built in 1911. The several construction cranes in the vicinity probably are for construction of the current bridge west of Connaught. Of course, there is no sign of the residences of what ultimately become Olympic Village; most buildings in that vicinity continued to have an industrial appearance. It is interesting that an enduring piece of infrastructure in this image is the stretch of Skytrain guide-way visible between what we’d call today the two sections of the S-curve at Main Street/Science World Station (to the left) and just before Stadium/Chinatown Station (to the right). Skytrain was still under construction/testing in 1983 and would have its debut prior to the opening of Expo.

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