We’re looking east on West Georgia Street: the Archives at this point have an undated image (and unidentified location). The cars, and the changes in the buildings suggest some time in the 1970s. The Royal Centre is complete, so we’re past 1973, Cathedral place hasn’t replace the Medical-Dental Building, so we’re before 1992, and the Burrard Building has it’s original skin, so it’s before 1988. The Ritz Hotel is still standing on the right of the picture, so it’s probably before 1980. By 1985 the Grosvenor Building was completed here. In the distance, behind the TD Tower is the Vancouver Centre – completed in 1976, so that puts us squarely into the mid 1970s.
The Ritz International may have had the prestigious name, but it wasn’t as classy as the Hotel Georgia or the Hotel Vancouver down the street. The hotel was a conversion of the St Julien Apartments, and that was itself a conversion of the new YMCA which received its building permit in 1913. The permit shows that it was designed by H S Griffith as a 7-storey, reinforced concrete structure, to be constructed at a cost of an extremely ambitious cost of $375,000.
The 1912 insurance map shows the Y began building that year. The start of World War One, and an economic depression meant that by 1919 the structure was still not complete and it was decided that it should be sold. In 1924 the building was completed as the St. Julien Apartments (seen here around 1925) but those didn’t last very long, and in 1929 was turned into the Ritz Hotel. Not all the apartments were turned into hotel rooms – the property offered both hotel rooms and ‘fully serviced apartments’.
The Ritz stayed as a hotel – it didn’t become a low-income rental property as many further east, and was finally demolished in 1983 to be replaced by the Grosvenor Building, a multi-faceted gold coloured tower that allowed tenants to offer the prestigious ‘corner office’ to more of its employees.
Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-312 and Vancouver Public Library