Throwback Thursdays: The Centre Street Bridge

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives and it’s of the MacArthur Bridge, the predecessor to today’s Centre Street Bridge, and it was taken in 1912.

The MacArthur Bridge, a steel truss bridge built by the Centre Street Bridge Company Limited, was destroyed by a flood in 1915.  The City of Calgary spent $365,000 to replace it with a bridge designed by John F. Green, which has since become known as the Centre Street Bridge.

Made of reinforced concrete and featuring an upper and lower deck, the marquee pieces of the new bridge were four large cast concrete lines on four massive plinths with two lions positioned at the end of each side of the bridge.  Designed by Scottish mason James L. Thompson, the lions were modelled after the brass lions at the base of Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, London.  The upper deck spans 178 metres and is 15 metres wide, while the lower deck spans 150 metres and is 5.5 metres wide.

The Centre Street Bridge opened on December 18, 1916.  In 2000, the City of Calgary restored and renovated the bridge.  During the restoration, the original four lions were replaced with replicas, and one of the lions was restored and is currently on display in front of City Hall.  The other three lions are currently held in long term storage at the city’s maintenance yard in Mayland Heights.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past that you’d like to share with us?  If so, send us an e-mail [email protected] and it may appear in our weekly segment!

Throwback Thursdays: The Trees

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph looks down Stephen Avenue from 2 Street S.W. and was taken some time in the 1990s.

Comparing the image to what one sees in the area today, not much has changed on the street, save for one exception:  The Trees.

If you’ve ever wondered what those ten white 25-metre tall metal structures that adorn Stephen Avenue Walk near Bankers Hall are (you can see them in the background of the second image), they are simply called The Trees.

Erected in 2000, these functional art pieces display a wonderful light show that graces the area come nightfall.  However, one of their primary purposes is to break up wind gusts in between the buildings by breaking up the wind in the corridor created by the street as it runs east to west through the core.

And now you know!

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past you want to share with us?  If so send us an e-mail [email protected]

Throwback Thursdays: The Palace Theatre

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of W.J. Oliver and it’s of the Palace Theatre.

 

Located at 219 – 8 Avenue SW, the building was initially called the Allens’ Theatre as it was part of the Allen family’s chain of movie theatres.  Barney Allen and his sons Jules and Jay founded the first big international movie theatre circuit in 1906 and chose to make Calgary their base of operations.

In the early 1920s, the Famous Players chain, which was just formed by Paramount, stopped the Allens from obtaining Paramount pictures which pushed them into bankruptcy and forced them to divest themselves of the theatre.  In 1921, J.B. Barron chose to enter the theatre business and it was renamed the Palace Theatre.

The venue also played host to orchestral performances and radio broadcasts, and is known for being the venue that William Aberhart made his first broadcast from in November 1925, which eventually led into the formation of the Social Credit Party.

In 1928, the theatre landed into the hands of Famous Players and continued to show movies until 1990, with its final movie shown being Tango and Cash.  The venue then sat vacant until 1998 when a consortium spent $4 million to turn it into the Palace Night Club.  It closed in February 2004 and reopened in April 2007 as Flames Central, which operates out of the venue today.

The building was designed by C. Howard Crane, an American architect who did most of the design work for the various Allen movie properties.  It is a four-storey building with a facade of the Edwardian Classical style, and is an example of the style of silent movie theatres known as “movie palaces” that were built by the Allens.  In 1996, the building was designated a National Historic Site.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past you want to share with us?  If so send us an e-mail [email protected]

Throwback Thursdays: Trolleys and Transit

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph is provided courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives, and it’s of Stephen Avenue and 1 Street S.W.  This photograph is notable for its inclusion of an electric streetcar, and that’s what we’ll focus on today.

The first public transportation system here in Calgary (and the forerunner of today’s Calgary Transit as we know it), the Calgary Electric Street Car Railway built and operated a street car system in 1909 to help support a population of 30,000 people.  Passengers boarded the first street car on July 5, 1909.  The system began with 16 miles of track and 12 electric streetcars, and it looped from Stephen Avenue to 17th Avenue and back again.

Its popularity grew and by 1918, limited stop service had been extended to other outlying communities.  The system survived the Depression in the 1930s, and in 1932, gasoline fuelled buses were introduced into the public transit system to serve areas of Calgary that did not have streetcar service.

The 1940s saw streetcars slowly phased out in favour of both diesel and electric trolley buses, and the last regular street car run was made in 1950.  The last street car was restored and moved to Heritage Park, where the public can still see it today.

As Calgary’s population grew to almost half a million people from 1950 to 1975, the bus and trolley systems were expanded to meet the demand.  By the early 1970s, trolley buses were phased out for diesel buses and by 1978, construction of the first leg of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system began.  In 1981, the South line of the LRT system from Anderson Road to 7th Avenue S.W. officially opened and expansion of LRT service to the NE and NW soon followed.

Today, the LRT system services NE Calgary up to McKnight, NW Calgary up to Crowfoot Crossing, and the South line has been extended all the way to Somerset.  Further expansion of the system to service other areas of the city is planned for the future.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past you want to share with us?  If so send us an e-mail [email protected]

Throwback Thursdays: The CORE

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of The CORE, taken some time in early 2000.

Constructed in the late 1980s, spanning three city blocks and containing approximately 160 retailers on four levels, The CORE shopping centre as it is known today consists of three buildings:  TD Square, the Holt Renfrew building, and the former Calgary Eaton Centre.  The property also contains four major office towers (TD Canada Trust Tower, Home Oil Tower, Dome Tower) and the Lancaster Building.  It is directly connected to Bankers Hall and Scotia Centre/Hudson’s Bay Store via the +15 system.

The T. Eaton Co. opened its original department store on the site in 1929.  TD Square (originally named Oxford Square) joined it to the East in 1977, and when the original Eaton’s location had to be demolished to make way for the new Calgary Eaton Centre, the front facade of the original Eaton’s store was preserved and can still be seen today in its original location.

TD Square has even been showcased in the movies, as parts of the exterior of the building can be seen in some of the Metropolis scenes in Superman III.

Since then, Holt Renfrew now occupies the space that Eaton’s once did as part of its expansion, and the entire property has completed a three-year, multi-million dollar redevelopment project that has seen the entire complex unified under a continuous 26 metre wide, 200 metre long suspended glass skylight, which makes it the largest point-supported structural glass skylight in the world.

The CORE has redefined itself as Calgary’s destination for high-end luxury goods and apparel, and is an excellent place to find some of the hottest brands all under one roof.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past you want to share with us?  If so send us an e-mail [email protected]

Throwback Thursdays: The Grand Theatre

This week’s Throwback Thursday photograph comes courtesy of the Collection of the Glenbow Museum Archives, and it’s of The Grand Theatre, a fitting theme as The Grand will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first performance in the theatre this week.

 

Designed by architect L.R. Wardrop and built alongside Lougheed Block in 1911 (which was originally built to accommodate retail stores, offices and living quarters) by Sir James Lougheed, The Grand Theatre was the largest and best theatre in the Pacific Northwest.  In fact, the first theatre, opera, ballet, symphony concerts and movies in Calgary were all seen here.  Such was the theatre’s prestige that it attracted many international acts and stars such as Fred Astaire, Sarah Bernhardt, the Marx Brothers and more to perform at the venue.

The theatre was modern for its time; all 15 changing rooms beneath the stage had hot and cold water, as well as electric lighting.  The original theatre had 1,350 seats with 810 on the main floor and 540 in the gallery.

With the opening of the Jubilee Auditorium in 1957 and its more modern facilities, the 1960s saw the theatre decline as a cultural hotspot in the city and The Grand became primarily a movie house.  After several changes in ownership and several incarnations which included an indoor golf driving range and potentially a parkade, as well as a fire in 2003 that temporarily closed the building, the Theatre Junction Society raised $12 million to purchase The Grand in 2005, and The Grand Theatre relaunched as Theatre Junction GRAND in March 2006.

The current theatre can be configured into eight different seating layouts with a maximum capacity of 440 people.  The theatre hosts all sorts of contemporary performances from Calgary and around the world, and can even be booked to host corporate and private events as well.

2012 is the centennial year of many major institutions in Calgary, and this week marks the 100th anniversary of the first performance in The Grand Theatre, which occurred on February 5, 1912.

As such, Theatre Junction GRAND is holding a 12-hour long celebration starting at 2 p.m. on Saturday, February 4 and ending at 2 a.m. on Sunday, February 5 and everyone is invited!

Featuring some of Calgary’s most popular and respected artists including Dan Vacon of the Dudes, DJ Pump, Mandy Stobo (from Bad Portraits) and many more, as well as a sneak peek preview of the upcoming show Attempts on Her Life, everyone’s invited to help celebrate 100 years of culture in Calgary and at The Grand.  To learn more about the centennial festivities, check out the event page at Theatre Junction GRAND.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past you want to share with us?  If so send us an e-mail [email protected]

Throwback Thursdays: The Imperial Bank of Canada Building

This week’s old Throwback Thursday picture, taken in 1978 by Boyd Waddell Photography, looks at the Imperial Bank of Canada Building on 100 8 Avenue SE, at the corner of 8 Avenue and Centre Street.

 

Built in 1886, the building embodies the Neoclassical architectural style.  The original owner of the site was the I.G. Baker Co. which had arrived in 1875 to provision the North-West Mounted Police.  By 1892, the Imperial Bank of Canada purchased the site and renovated it.

From 1903-1906, the upper floor held the offices of Sifton, Short and Stuart, Barristers, Notaries, etc.  Arthur L. Sifton was the elder brother of Clifford Sifton who was Minister of the Interior from 1896-1905, and was Premier of Alberta from 1910-1917 and one of Canada’s four representatives at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919.

Today, the building has been completely renovated and currently houses Catch & The Oyster Bar, a fresh seafood restaurant which has occupied the space since 2002.

Many changes have been made to the site since.  For example, the Hyatt Regency Calgary hotel now looms in the background incorporating many historical buildings in the area into its design, and The York Hotel, which you can see in the background of the first photograph and built some time in 1929-1930, no longer stands as originally built, as it had to be demolished in order to make way for The Bow.  But, before being demolished, 70-80% of the bricks used in its construction have been saved and numbered and will be reconstructed and incorporated into the outer facade of The Bow building.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past you want to share with us?  If so send us an e-mail [email protected]

Throwback Thursdays: Clarence and Tribune Blocks

Today’s Throwback Thursday looks at two more historic buildings in Downtown Calgary’s Stephen Avenue Walk, located right next to each other: Clarence Block and Tribune Block.

Clarence Block, located at 120 – 8 Avenue SW, was originally built in 1890 and named after building owner Senator James Lougheed’s son Clarence, but a fire on Christmas Day in 1899 razed the building.  The current incarnation of Clarence Block was rebuilt and opened in February 1901, and was designed by William Dodd, designer of Calgary’s City Hall.

At one time, it housed the law office of Lougheed and his partner R.B. Bennett, who eventually became Prime Minister of Canada, as well as Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) and John E. Brownlee, premier of Alberta from 1925-1935.  It has also housed a McNally Robinson Booksellers location, and most recently is the downtown location of Sport Chek.

Tribune Block, located at 118 – 8 Avenue SW, was built in 1892 and is named after having briefly served as the home of one of Alberta’s first newspapers, the Calgary Tribune (a forerunner of The Albertan and the Calgary Sun).

From 1907-1919, Charles Traunweiser owned the building and ran it as the Hub Cigar Store, Billiards Room and Traunweiser’s Bowling Alley.  In recent days, it has housed restaurants such as Ben Venuto, the Tribune Restaurant & Bar, and most recently, the TRIB Steakhouse.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Do you have any photos of downtown Calgary from the past you want to share with us?  If so send us an e-mail [email protected]

Throwback Thursdays: Stephen Avenue and First Street SW

Today’s Throwback Thursday looks at Stephen Avenue Walk and First Street SW.  This historic street corner is one of Calgary’s oldest intersections and has been known in days past as “The Alberta Corner” due to having an “Alberta” building on each corner.

In the first picture, you can see a Second Cup location to the left while in the second picture below (shot this month), that location is currently occupied by an Out There Adventure Centre, as well as Murrieta’s Bar & Grill upstairs.  That building, located at 804 – 1 Street SW, is known as the Alberta Hotel, and was one of the first buildings to use sandstone after the fire of 1886.  It originally cost $36,000 to build plus $9,000 for furnishings.  The bar was reputed to be the largest between Winnipeg and China, and the building was so popular that it was necessary to expand the premises in 1891 and again in 1906.

Across the street is Alberta Block, which housed a Music World location in the first picture, and is currently one of the buildings that houses Fashion Central today.  Located at 804 – 1 Street SW, and the long time home of Condon’s Palace of Eats, portions of this building were owned by a group of eastern investors:  R.B. Angus, Donald A. Smith (Lord Strathcona), E. Osler and Wm. Scarth.  Smith was a major personality in Western Canadian history, negotiating a settlement to the Red River Uprising (1st Riel Rebellion) with Louis Riel and was the person who drove the last spike in the C.P.R. railway at Craigellachie in 1885.

That’s it for this week’s Throwback Thursday.  Tune in next week and every week in 2012 for more glimpses into the past of Downtown Calgary.

Katherine Chi Makes the Bells Toll Downtown Calgary this January

Katherine Chi is a world-renowned pianist who gave her debut recital at the young age of nine.  Since her early beginnings, this local Calgarian has performed throughout Europe and North America and was the first Canadian, as well as the first woman, to win Canada’s Honens International Piano Competition in 2000.

Last Thursday, Katherine gave a special live performance on the Calgary Tower’s carillon (the unique keyboard instrument whose bell voices can be heard atop towers).  Her performance, featuring a selection of music composed by various Canadians, was part of the High Performance Rodeo’s Calgary Carillon Celebration and from noon until 1:00 pm her melodies could be heard in the tower’s lobby and throughout the downtown core.

Below is a video of one of her performances:

If you missed her special live performance last week, don’t fret!  Every weekday at noon from now until January 27th, an hour of carillon song will ring through the streets of Downtown Calgary.

For more information on the High Performance Rodeo, Calgary’s International Festival of the Arts, check out hprodeo.ca.

 

Introducing: Throwback Thursdays!

 

2012 is going to be a big year in Calgary.  Not only has Calgary been designated as a Cultural Capital of Canada, but it also marks the centennial anniversaries of many prominent cornerstones in Calgary’s community such as the Calgary Stampede, The City of Calgary Recreation, the Calgary Public Library, and the GRAND Theatre.

To help celebrate, we’re debuting a new weekly feature here on GetDown.ca, Throwback Thursdays where we’ll look at some old photos of places in downtown Calgary and see how those spaces have evolved over time.

Today, we’re looking at the 10th Street SW bridge overlooking the downtown core.  This picture was taken in the late 1990s/early 2000s and you can see when comparing it with the picture below (which was taken this month), just how much the skyline of the core has changed in about 10 years or so.

As you can see, many condo and apartment buildings have arisen on the banks of the Bow River since the first photo was taken, as well as a few new office towers.  You can’t see from these pictures, but the newly-built Peace Bridge now stands in the background overlooking the Bow River.

Taking it all together, you can see just how much Calgary’s skyline has changed in a few years and how all of the development that has happened here in the last couple of decades has contributed to a more vibrant inner core.

This is just a taste of what to expect on Throwback Thursdays, so tune in every Thursday this year to catch a glimpse of downtown Calgary, both old and new.