Friday, June 5, 2009

Niagara Falls Then and Now: Construction of The Rainbow Bridge

below: The Rainbow Bridge on the Canadian side of the Niagara River, at the beginning of construction, 1940. River Rd. is closed off. The restaurant and souvenier shop at left would be torn down, as they were right in the middle of where the future Rainbow Bridge plaza would be built.
The three Schoellkopf generating stations (3A, 3B, & 3C) are seen stretching along the river on the U.S. side, in the upper right. Note the white water plumes exiting the stations' spillways. The Schoellkopf site would be destroyed in a disastrous collapse in 1956. Click on photos to enlarge!
above: 1940, a sandwich sign lays in the street as the buildings are demolished. The building above is the same one seen on the corner previously above.
Colour photos above credited to A.H. Tiplin, Niagara Falls Library Archives.
Looking at the Jun.4, 2009 photo below, these old buildings once stood at the right; this is now the Canadian border inspection plaza (on the upper level, just where the workers are seen). In the distance at the top left is the former General Brock, now Crowne Plaza, hotel. At bottom are the landscaped gardens which run along River Rd. towards Oakes Garden at Clifton Hill. Note the fountain with a relief of three stylized geese.

above: ca. 1940's - man standing in front of the same previously-seen garden fountain was J.C. Scott, maintenance manager for the Rainbow Bridge.
below: one of my favourite shots in the Niagara Falls Library Archive is this iconic 1941 angled photo of a soldier and a girl in earnest conversation, standing on a construction scaffold at the side of the Niagara River Gorge, with the Rainbow Bridge behind them, as it was being built. Note the acetylene tank at the right.
(He: Are you afraid of heights?, allow me to hold your hand. She: Don't worry, I've got my heel on the fence - and I'm ready in case you try any funny business...but, keep talking, fella...)
above: a view of the Rainbow Bridge Jun.4, 2009 - to the left of this photo is where the demolished buildings (seen at the top of this post) once stood.
This is also the area where the soldier and girl couple were standing, at the far left, by the bridge abutments, seen in this closer view, below, at the now-treed area on the south side of the bridge.

above: this is the same view, as it was on June 15, 1943.
below: postcard view of the Canadian border inspection plaza at the Rainbow Bridge. Date not known. R. Bobak collection. The bridge is seen from further back. This view is probably taken from the Brock hotel, which still stands directly west of the bridge.

above: same view in the summer of '42 - similar to, but not exactly the same, as the previous shot.
below: looking slightly farther to the right (south) of the bridge, the border bus terminal can be seen.
below: the construction of the Rainbow Bridge plaza, as seen in winter, early 1941. The souvenier shops and restaurants have been cleared away. As seen above, the bus and inspection plaza were built on a higher level. Note the temporary access ramp to the bridge. Also note a part of the doomed Schoellkopf generating station (the southern end of Stn. 3C) is seen at the far left on the American side of the Niagara River; it would suffer a catastrophic collapse on Jun.7, 1956 (See: Niagara Falls Then and Now: the Schoellkopf Hydro Station collapse)

above: 1941 - the future plaza begins to take shape. Note that the steel arches are suspended by cables on the Canadian and U.S. sides, but are not yet joined in the middle, over the river.
above: 1941 - the bridge arch is now seen connected and decked. The temporary steel towers which held up the steel support cables have been dismantled. They didn't mess around back then - this bridge was built by the Canadian Bridge Co. of Walkerville, Ont., in a year and a half : starting May, 1940, the bridge was officially open on Nov.1, 1941!
Note also the massive white water plume spilling out of the Adams tunnel at the center-right distance.
above: 1941 view of the suspended Rainbow Bridge arches under construction. The Falls are seen in the distance. The Canadian side is at the right.
above: this colour photo, most likely taken in 1941, shows one of the steel sections which made up the arch being readied for hoisting out over the river for assembly.
below: this colour photo (date not clear: given with photo is "May 1940 - Nov.1941"?) shows the concrete supports under construction; there is no steel yet at the right. It's probable that this shot was taken in 1940. This impressive photo (on Kodachrome, credited to Albert H. Tiplin, as is also the colour photo above) was taken looking up the slope at the south side of the Rainbow Bridge (on the Canadian side) The scaffolding at the upper left is where the soldier and girl, shown earlier in this post, were standing.

above: this view, said to be 1941, shows the concrete supports being built, no steel yet. This is the same location where the soldier with the girl photo was taken, as seen earlier in this post.
below: Postcard view of the Hotel Sheraton Brock in Niagara Falls, Ont., with Oakes Garden in the foreground. Clifton Hill is the road in the foreground where the horse-drawn carriages await. Date not known. R. Bobak collection.

above: same view, Jun.4, 2009. The Brock Sheraton is now the Crowne Plaza. The Oneida (now Casino) tower, built by Oneida Silver Co. in 1964, is seen at the left. A bit of the Sheraton Foxhead (built in 1966 at 14 storeys, enlarged in 2000 to 22 floors) is at the far left.
below: postcard view of The Refectory Restaurant at Victoria Park, building built 1904, run by the Niagara Parks Commission. Great view from upper patio of both Canadian and American Falls. After taking her on a horse-drawn carriage ride, maybe our intrepid soldier took his gal here for dinner? Date of postcard not known. R. Bobak collection

above: same view, Jun.3, 2009 - now called Edgewater's; the Skylon Tower (opened 1965) looms behind. Unless noted otherwise, the older photos in this study are from the Niagara Falls Library Archive.

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