West Cordova from Abbott

We’re looking west up West Cordova Street from the junction with Abbott in 1889. Somebody at the studio of Bailey and Neelands took the photograph – both the Bailey and Neelands families moved west from the same small area of rural Ontario that a number of other successful Vancouver pioneers came from. The only building in common in both pictures is right at the end of the street and almost out of sight. That’s the Arlington Block, developed by Dr James Whetham in 1887, almost certainly using N S Hoffar as the architect. The pink building is the Panama Block, built in 1913. The block on the left is G W Grant’s first known project in Vancouver “commercial block for W B Wilson, 1887”. It was illustrated in an 1887 promotional publication “Vancouver – Pacific Coast Terminus of the CPR”.

There are several businesses that will be very successful on this side of the street including G E Trorey, whose business was later bought by Birks jewellers. (When Birks took over they also got the clock Trorey bought in Boston for $2,000 in 1905. When they moved their business to its new location they also moved the clock, which became the Birks Clock). Johnston and Kerfoot are there, who outfit many Klondike excursions in years to follow, and McClennan and McFeely, who will grow a trading empire in the city. Bailey Brothers, the photographers, are based about half way up the street, just before Kurtz and Co’s cigar factory. On the right is the Cosmopolitan Hotel, the Savoy Theatre (designed by William Blackmore), a Chinese company, Kwong Hang Chung Co (showing they weren’t all confined to Chinatown) and Rae’s Boot and Shoe Co, among others.

In between the two photographs Woodwards took over the entire south side of the street, and these days it’s the base of the 43-storey Woodwards W tower by Henriquez Partners with a mix of condo and non-market housing above retail, including Nester’s Market. Most of the right side is Henriquez’s redesigned Gastown Parkade, but the Cook Block from 1901 and the 1911 Runkle Block designed by G L T Sharp are both still standing.

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