Pre-Expo ’86 Perspective

CVA 800-3087 - [Shows man on Skytrain line construction] 1983 Al Ingram photo.

CVA 800-3087 – [Shows man on Skytrain line construction] 1983 Al Ingram photo.

The man in the image is standing on what will become Skytrain’s elevated concrete guideway near what will be the Main Street/Science World Station. The worker seems to be looking toward the Pacific Central Station (VIA Rail’s local railway station and the long-distance bus terminal). There are early signs across Main Street (at ground level below the guideway) of construction of what would be known as Expo Centre (Freschi) and which would become Science World in its post-Expo life (Alexander).

It is undeniable that Expo was a major hinge of change (much of it positive) in Vancouver. I’ll touch on just a couple of those changes. One, plainly, is the development of a component to the local public transit system, SkyTrain; this novelty would, gradually, be taken more seriously by Vancouver residents and their political leaders as a real and viable option as a people mover for Greater Vancouver.*

Another change was the early development of a downtown stadium district. BC Place (with its, then, air-inflatable ‘puffy’ roof construction), visible behind the head of the gent in the photo, was opened in 1983 and would be the site of Expo’s opening and closing ceremonies. Notably, before Expo, it would host some of its largest audiences for a couple of Christian gatherings – Pope John Paul II’s ‘Celebration of Life’ visit and a Billy Graham crusade (both in 1984). There is no sign above, of course, of GM Place (which would replace the Pacific Coliseum in 1995 as the main indoor sport stadium, housing the NBA expansion team, Vancouver Grizzlies, and to be home to the NHL franchise, the Canucks. In 2010, GM Place would be re-branded as Rogers Arena.

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*I was surprised to read, as part of my research for today’s post, about a Vancouver monorail system that was installed as part of Expo ’86 and which in 1987 was moved to the U.K. See here for details. If you are wondering, as was I, what features distinguish monorails from Skytrain and other elevated rail technologies, this site is helpful. This is a very good video showing Expo ’86 buildings, monorail, and gondola.

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