Following famous aviator Charles Lindbergh’s snub that Vancouver had “no fit field to land on,” construction began in April 1930 on a single, 730-metre runway and a small wood-frame administration building crowned by a control tower, on Sea Island in Richmond.
World War II marked a period of expansion for the airport. New facilities included new hangars, a Royal Canadian Air Force base and a major aircraft manufacturing plant for Boeing.
As Vancouver’s reputation as a destination served by air grew, the airport hosted more passengers — including special guest Marilyn Monroe, shown here posing atop a lift truck.
The jet age arrived at Vancouver Airport in the sixties, and with it YVR’s new super-jet terminal. Opened in 1968, the $32-million building served 1.9 million passengers in its first year of operation, and featured gates that allowed aircraft to park at the terminal, and passengers to load and unload via bridges.
This aerial photograph shows Airport South in 1979. While YVR’s major domestic and international carriers operated out of the Main Terminal, growth continued at Airport South with the expansion of floatplane, private aircraft and charter service.
The eighties saw significant expansion to international air service at YVR. Airlines including British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and Air China joined YVR’s roster between 1983 and 1989.
In May 1996, a new $250-million, 16-gate International Terminal opened at YVR. A new control tower was also built. Pictured are YVR’s two control towers; in the foreground, the 1968 tower, with the new tower behind.
The unprecedented closure of North American airspace following the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States led to the diversion to YVR of 34 U.S.-bound wide-body aircraft carrying 8,500 passengers.
Today, 62 airlines serve YVR, connecting people and businesses to 99 destinations in Canada, the U.S. and around the world. Approximately 17 million passengers travelled through YVR in 2011.