This image illustrates for me, yet again, the potential of a photograph to help me see things as they once were. I knew from earlier reading that the first Georgia Viaduct (1915) began and terminated at different points than does the current (1972-installed and twinned) structure of the same name. I had no difficulty visualizing where the eastern end was – thanks to early photographs – but picturing just where the early Viaduct had its western end wasn’t, for me, easy to imagine. Partly, I think, because I hadn’t seen a clearly contextual photo of it with a current and contemporary major landmark in common . . . until today.
The western end of the 1915 Viaduct apparently began about half a block north of where it currently starts (Georgia at Beatty). The southern exposure of the Beatty Street Drill Hall faces the viewer and was close to the western end of the early structure. (Today, the Dunsmuir Viaduct – the westbound twin of the 1972 Georgia Viaduct – runs next to the northern end of the Drill Hall).
The image evidently was made as a promotional photo by Stuart Thomson for the national Department of Public Works shortly after the end of the Great War. The choice of background – the Drill Hall – was a potent and, generally, positive symbol of the role of the federal government in the recently won war (staggering casualties, notwithstanding). In the foreground were symbols of man’s vanquishment over natural impediments to ‘progress’, the 1915 Viaduct and, of course, the federal trucks.
So, as an image of its time, it seems to me to have been successful. And as a help to this amateur historian of a different time, it has proven to be, arguably, even more helpful.
Thanks again, Stuart! (To see other VAIW posts with Thomson images, link here).