Centre Street Bridge: Calgary’s Grand Old Lady
Centre Street Bridge is regarded as the central point of the quadrant system that defines Calgary’s layout. Proclaimed as a Municipal Historic Resource for Calgary in 1992, this bi-level reinforced concrete bridge, opened on December 18, 1916, straddles the Bow River. The upper concrete deck is 15 metres wide and spans 178 metres, crossing both the Bow River and Memorial Drive. It links the Downtown to the north shore community of Crescent Heights along Centre Street. The lower deck, constructed from “I” girders, is 5.5 metres wide and 150 metres long, straddling the Bow River and connecting Riverfront Avenue in Chinatown on the south shore to Memorial Drive on the north shore.
Pedestrian sidewalks on the upper deck enable tourists, foot commuters and cyclists to traverse the bridge safely, connecting them to the extensive city-wide pathway system. Several vantage points allow one to enjoy the sweeping views of the downtown skyscrapers, the swirling waters of the Bow River beneath, gorgeous Prince’s Island Park to the west, and the steel-girded Reconciliation Bridge to the east.
Four concrete lions ominously guard the bridge atop two pairs of pavilions at each end of the bridge. Modelled after the bronze lions in Trafalgar Square in London, England, the Scottish Mason, James L. Thompson introduced various symbols of Canada and the United Kingdom into the pavilion designs. Look out for the buffalo heads and maple leaves representing Canada, the shamrocks representing Ireland, the roses representing England and the thistles representing Scotland.
The original lions were removed during an overhaul of the bridge in 2001 and were replaced by replicas. One of the original lions has been relocated to City Hall while the remaining three are in long term storage. A local Chinatown legend claims that at night these lions would come alive and roam the city streets.
It’s always a thrill to pass beneath the iconic landmark during a summer Floating of the Bow outing.
Other nearby popular attractions
- McHugh Bluff
- Prince’s Island Park
- St Patrick’s Island Park
- Memorial Drive’s Field of Crosses (November)
- Eau Claire Market
- Some of our favourite downtown coffee shops
- The neighbourhood of Kensington
- The neighbourhood of Bridgeland
- The Peace Bridge
- Poppy Plaza
The Centre Street Bridge is accessible by car, taxi, public transit (bus), as a pedestrian and by bicycle.
Navigate to the bridge using Google maps here.
- For public transit (bus and C-Train) access, you can plan your visit using the City of Calgary transit website;
- If you are arriving in your own vehicle, paid street parking is available downtown and in nearby neighbourhoods. Consult local signage or calgaryparking.com for options;
- If you are arriving by bicycle or as a pedestrian, consult the City of Calgary’s pathway maps here. For security reasons, remember to bring your own bicycle lock.