If you are familiar with Lions Gate Bridge history then you’ll know that its construction was made possible by the Guinness family (yes, that Guinness) but did you know that its iconic string of lights was nicknamed Gracie’s Necklace?
The Guinness family, of Irish beer fame, was convinced to invest in land over in West Vancouver, purchasing 4,000 acres for $18.75 an acre in 1932 –- and they got busy developing it. This is when a connecting roadway from the north shore to downtown Vancouver would come in handy so the family made it happen. Bridge construction started in 1937 and was completed the following year for just under $6 million. In 1955 the Guinness family sold the bridge to the provincial government though the tolls continued until 1963.
Guinness’ final involvement in the life of the Lions Gate Bridge came in 1986 when they privately sponsored lights that were added to its cables, giving the span its recognizable night time glow. This gift to Vancouver, for EXPO 86, was coordinated by MP Grace McCarthy and thus the lights were nicknamed “Gracie’s Necklace“. The lights went on February 19th, 1986.
In July 2009, the bridge’s lighting system was updated once again, ahead of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. New LED lights to replaced the existing system of 100-watt mercury vapour bulbs. This switch was expected to reduce power consumption on the bridge by 90%.