Farewell, McHarg Viaduct

1971 CVA 216-21 - Demolition of the "old" Georgia Viaduct. 7.7.71.

CVA 216-21 [Demolition of the “old” Georgia Viaduct 7.7.71], 1971.

This is a view of the eastern end of the McHarg (aka the “old” Georgia) Viaduct as demolition of it began in 1971. (1) The photograph was taken from the surface of the viaduct, looking toward Main Street. The demolition would proceed toward where the photographer was standing.

The new Georgia Viaduct would take a different route (and would be twinned, with the Dunsmuir Viaduct taking westbound traffic and the Georgia Viaduct taking eastbound) from that of the original bridge. The first Georgia Viaduct connected West Georgia at Beatty (next to the Drill Hall) with East Georgia at Main.  The new one would connect West Georgia at Cambie (next to BC Place) with Main at Prior Street. It was this change of route that meant that Hogan’s Alley (home of a substantial number of Vancouver’s black population) would be destroyed as part of the new viaduct project.

The 1970s viaduct (which was originally intended to be the first part of an urban highway) gave the city an excuse to launch an anti-“blight” campaign against Hogan’s Alley and other older neighbourhoods. It also led to the construction of the MacLean and Raymur-Campbell housing “projects”. The city’s anti-blight campaign is summed up well in the propaganda film entitled To Build A Better City (this is worth watching, if only for the soundtrack – which reminds me of that of a 1960s Hitchcock flick – and the over-the-top script read by long-time CBC News announcer, George McLean.)

Note: (1) The “old” viaduct was initially known as the McHarg Viaduct in honour of WWI hero, Lt. Col. William Hart-McHarg of the Duke of Connaught’s Own Rifles, who died at Ypres.

 

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