From Rail/Industrial Park to Artificial Turf

Author's File, 2014.

Author’s File, 2014.

This green space on the outskirts of downtown today is known as Andy Livingstone Park. From 1915-1960s, the first Georgia Viaduct would have cut across the southern section of where the park is today. Before the artificial turf of the athletic grounds, there were rails and an ‘industrial park’. At the southeastern corner of the park, there was the BC Electric Railway power house. The northeastern False Creek rail flats, part of which are still in existence today (southeast of the park), extended into this region during most of the 20th century and, indeed, were one of the reasons for construction of the first Georgia Viaduct.

The following extended passage from a 2011 City of Vancouver Transportation report is helpful in putting the present into historical context:

The first Georgia viaduct, completed in 1915, was built to connect the eastern part of the City to the Downtown core. The railway yards and industrial area below created a barrier and the viaduct created a way to remove this barrier with a relatively flat connection to the bluff of the downtown.

Due to structural problems and ongoing maintenance issues Vancouver residents voted to replace the viaduct in the 60’s with a design that included two structures and continued to pass over the industrial lands of Northeast False Creek below. This viaduct design was based on it becoming the first phase of a larger freeway network that was planned.

In the late 1960s opposition led to the rejection of the freeway plan for Vancouver and today the only remnant of the freeway proposal is the eastern portion of the viaducts.

Today the area around the viaducts has a much different context then when they were built. The railway yards have been removed and the industrial areas are no longer present. They still provide a gently sloping east/west connection from Main Street to the downtown which provides a good connection for bikes and goods movement that is not present otherwise in this area, however they create a barrier for the area below and for linkages between Chinatown, Gastown and Strathcona to False Creek. 

The image below is one made by professional photographer, Jack Lindsay, probably sometime between 1940-48 of part of the rail yards beneath the first Georgia Viaduct.

CVA 1184-27 - Rail car loaded with lumber at the Canada Customs Sufferance Warehouse under the Georgia Viaduct. Jack Lindsay photo, 1940-48.

CVA 1184-27 – Rail car loaded with lumber at the Canada Customs Sufferance Warehouse under the Georgia Viaduct. Jack Lindsay photo, 1940-48.

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