Calgary Then and Now: Centre Street Bridge in 1910

Technically the historic photo is the McArthur Bridge, a precursor to the iconic Centre Street Bridge.

This precursor to the now famous Centre Street Bridge was built in 1907 by developer Archibald J. McArthur. He had bought land for a new residential community called Crescent Heights, and he wanted his potential customers to have easy access to it. The McArthur Bridge spanned to the Bow River, connecting downtown to the north hill. This picture was taken around 1910 or 1911.

The simple wood and steel truss construction was functional rather than artistic, and it was built without consideration of how it would connect to the existing road system. It was supposed to be replaced by the arched concrete Centre Street Bridge when, not even two months into the new Centre Street Bridge’s construction in 1915, a flood washed out the McArthur Bridge on the morning of June 26. Three City workers were inspecting it at the time of the collapse, and one of them, Edwin Tambling, drowned when he was thrown into the river.

The new Centre Street Bridge was built to be flood-resilient, and it withstood the flood June 2013. The bridge has been a Calgarian icon for 100 years.

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