23 years ago, McDonald’s built a store location on a huge ship in Canada.
Designed by Robert Allan Ltd. for $US12 million — over $US26 million today — and constructed for the 1986 World Fair Expo in Vancouver, the boat was called the Friendship 500.
Though it was not the first McDonald’s to be built on a boat (that title belongs to a store location in St. Louis, Missouri), it was a huge hit with its classy interior and workers wearing nautical uniforms.
A nod to the Fair’s theme of technology and architecture, it ended up becoming a popular icon at the six-month event — they nicknamed it the McBarge.
But only two years later, locals were ready to see it moved from the False Creek waterfront in Vancouver and float to a different location. McDonald’s finally allowed the new owners to move it to Vancouver’s less-populated Burrard Inlet in 1991.
Since then, the boat has sat neglected and allowed to slowly rust over the decades.
But it wasn’t completely abandoned. In 2009, developer and owner Howard Meakin proposed the idea of remaking the ship into a restaurant complex called Sturgeon’s on the River. The 8,500-square-foot structure would include multiple restaurants, a marina, as well as have a seaplane terminal.
Then in 2010, Adam Lewis started a Save the McBarge Facebook group. 530 people joined the group, with people still commenting on the page today about the McBarge’s status.
“There’s all the history behind it and it’s just such a cool barge. People have tried and tried to make it into something, and finally we’ve got a plan that makes sense,” Lewis told the Vancouver Sun in 2010, referencing Meakin’s earlier plan.
Yet despite popular local support, it lacked council approval and the McBarge was never resuscitated. The site remains a popular spot with ruin hunters, and though it’s disused it has not been forgotten.
Keep scrolling to see what it looks like inside.
The McBarge is a ruin of its former glory from the ’80s.
“White Power” graffiti can now be found inside.
The kitchen is in rough shape but the grill still looks ok.
And the grand dining hall has been stripped of its tables.
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