Scenic view of Calgarys pedestrian bridge and reflections. Scenic view of Calgarys pedestrian bridge and reflections.

Heritage & Modernity: Exploring Calgary’s Landscape Through 4 Iconic Bridges

Most bridges in Calgary are found mainly across two rivers. One is the Bow River, and the other is the Elbow River.

Calgary is a beautiful city in Alberta. It is mainly known for its futuristic buildings and urban vibes. With rocky mountains and winding rivers, this city has breathtaking natural views.

In contrast, the city’s infrastructure plays a vital role in connecting the city with other towns and areas, creating a diverse community. The unique bridges in Calgary certainly add to the city’s beauty.

1. Bridges in Calgary

Among the numerous picturesque landscapes, one of the most notable mentions has to be the cyclist and pedestrian bridges in Calgary.

The city has over 200 pedestrian bridges. The oldest is John Hextall Bridge in Bowness, built in 1910 and later converted into a pedestrian bridge.

1.1. Peace Bridge 

Calgary’s Peace Bridge is a bridge for walking and cycling, and it is on the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

The Peace Bridge is currently used by approximately 9000 per day in the summer months and was ranked as one of the top 10 architectural projects in 2012 and 10 public spaces in 2012.

1.1.1 Construction 

Santiago Calatrava, a famous Spanish architect, designed this Bridge. On March 24, 2012, the Peace Bridge started being used by the public. It has a unique design with a tube shape, crisscrossing patterns on the wall, and a bright red color that stands apart from the blue river below.

The vibrant red also represents the flag color of Canada. It is one of the most unique bridges in Calgary.

Unlike other bridges, what is more impressive about the Peace Bridge is that it has no beams or cables, and the steel structure supports its weight entirely.

In July 2022, 70 of the 100 glass railing panels around the Peace Bridge were vandalized, and since then, efforts have been made to repair them and maintain the Bridge’s original design.

A straightforward solution was using materials that are less susceptible to vandalism and can be maintained easily. The looks were restored by changing the materials from glass to steel cables. This also made the Peace Bridge safer and more durable.

1.1.2 Location 

The Peace Bridge is the main connector between the Bow River Pathway and downtown Calgary, with the Northern Bow River Pathway and the city of Sunnyside.

1.1.3 Use 

Along with connecting the two sides, the Peace Bridge was made to accommodate the increasing traffic on Calgary’s pathways. The Peace Bridge’s unique design and structure have become a tourist spot and are often attractive to architectural geeks.

The scenic view from the Peace Bridge is also impressive and breathtaking, perfect for pedestrians and cyclists.

1.2. George C. King Bridge

The George C. King Bridge, also known as the St Patrick Island Bridge, is a bridge for walking and cycling across the Bow River. This bridge is made of steel and concrete and has a total length of 182 meters.

1.2.1 Construction 

The Calgary Municipal Land Corporation made the George C. King Bridge part of their redevelopment project in the East Village neighborhood.

This bridge took five years, a little longer than initially planned. Of all the bridges in Calgary, the story of this bridge is undoubtedly the most adventurous. The floods washed away the bridge’s foundations in June 2013 while it was still under construction.

1.2.2 Location

The George C. King Bridge is on the Bow River, just northeast of downtown Calgary in Alberta, Canada. This bridge is a crucial connection between the east village and neighbors north of the Bow River, such as Bridgeland, Sunnyside, etc.

The bridge also provides a beautiful view of the Bow River with the surrounding city and buildings.

1.2.3 Use 

This bridge acts as a connector between the neighborhood of the east village and the south, connecting Bridgeland to the north. The bridge also joins the  St Patrick’s Island Park to other parts of the city.

1.3. Centre Street Bridge

The Centre Street Bridge is a bridge with a great history. It is located over the Bow River near Centre Street in Calgary, Alberta. The bridge is over 345ft long and has a width of 15 meters.

It was designed by John F. Green in 1916 and was opened to the public on 18 December 1916.

bridges in calgary
Photo by calgary.ca

1.3.1 Construction

The bridge was constructed in 1907 by Centre Street Bridge Company Limited, a land developer company. However, it was destroyed in 1915 by a massive flood. The present bridge was constructed in 1916.

The bridge is a suspended bridge. It is made of concrete. This bridge features an upper and a lower deck, along with Cantilevered balconies on the upper deck. Four large cast concrete lions top the two ornamental concrete pavilions on each end of the bridge.

It is the second oldest bridge built across the Bow River.

1.3.2 Location 

This bridge is located over the Bow River and central to the city’s quadrant system. The lower part of the bridge connects the Riverfront Avenue in Chinatown with Memorial Drive.

1.3.3 Use

A connection between Riverfront Avenue and Memorial Drive, this bridge is used for pedestrian and car transportation. It is one of the most critical bridges in Calgary.

1.4. New 61st Ave SW Bridge

The New 61st Ave SW Bridge connects 61st Avenue with Macleod Trail SW, a long-anticipated connection. According to CBC, more than 2,000 people and some 80,000 vehicles cross this bridge daily.

61 Ave SW Pedestrian Bridge Installation

1.4.1 Construction 

This bridge is 120 meters long and took only a year to complete. It is one of the most critical bridges in Calgary as it helps with the foot traffic from the east side of Macleod Trail with Chinook Centre, attracting about 14.8 million visitors daily.

1.4.2 Location 

It is located over the Bow River. This bridge connects Macleod Trail on 61 Avenue SW, the Chinook Centre, and the nearby station.

1.4.3 Use 

The bridge’s primary use was to increase the connection between the two sides, control pedestrian traffic, and provide a safer and better mode of transport over the Macleod Trial.

2. In The End

To conclude, the bridges in Calgary are integral to the city’s structure and urban charm. From their architects to their cultural significance, these bridges serve as a vital lifeline to the town and its people, increasing the quality of life.

Besides the bridges, there are parks surrounding the bridges in Calgary, which are suitable for long walks during summer and a perfect place to enjoy the blessings of nature.

Whether adding to the architectural beauty or improving transportation, the bridges in Calgary have played an instrumental role in shaping the city’s identity and creating a sense of unity among the various communities.

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