Calgary Then and Now: Crescent Heights in 1939

Lots has changed in nearly 80 years, but one thing has stayed the same: Crescent Road still has some of the best views in the city.

 

Overlooking the Bow River and the downtown skyline, these houses along Crescent Road in Calgary’s northwest would have been coveted real estate in 1939, and the ones that remain still are.

Crescent Heights, originally its own village, was acquired by land developer and politician Archibald J. McArthur and incorporated into the City of Calgary in 1909 along with the neighbouring community of Tuxedo Park, slightly further north. Crescent Heights experienced a real estate boom in the 1920s and many new homes were built, some of which are still standing today.

The neighbourhood is also home to Crescent Heights High School. The school has produced a laundry list of notable alumni over the decades, including Second World War flying ace Willie McKnight, Calgary Mayor and Alberta Premier Ralph Klein, and Juno Award-winning musical duo Tegan and Sara.

Pathways and an impressive 167-step staircase through McHugh Bluff Park (named after Felix McHugh, the entrepreneur who homesteaded the area in the 1880s) connect Crescent Heights to the Bow River below. The river earned its name, not from its curved shape, but because the Indigenous people who lived in the area, particularly the Piikani, used the reeds that grew along its banks to make bows.

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