Archive for December 2016

A Bit of Hastings Street

a-bit-of-hastings

We really can’t argue with the title of this tinted postcard from the 1910s. Remarkably, it shows that the pattern of buildings hasn’t changed in either of the two blocks visible in the picture for over a century. In fact almost all the buildings are unchanged. The dominant building is obviously the Dominion Building, completed in 1910. Initially developed by the Imperial Trust in 1908, an over optimistic belief that the needed $600,000 construction cost would be easy to raise led to a shotgun merger with the Dominion Trust Company, and the building was completed in 1910. Perhaps it would have been called the Imperial Building if the merger hadn’t happened. The Dominion was said to be the first steel-framed building in the city, and on completion the tallest in the British Empire. Almost immediately the building’s owners suffered further financial crises, with the Dominion Trust Company forced into selling to the entirely unrelated Dominion Bank, ensuring that the name didn’t have to change.

On the extreme left hand side of the picture is a building occupied by Vancouver Hardware and Thomson’s Stationers early in its life, hidden behind the tree in the contemporary shot. It was designed by Parr and Fee in 1898, and today has some terrible cement render replacing the original facade. The two-storey building to the east is The Mahon Block, designed by W T Dalton and built in 1902. In 1913 it was altered by W F Gardiner, which was possibly when an additional bay was added to the east, as far as we can tell for Thomson Brothers.

To the east, the tall, thin building is still standing today – although in our summer shot the street tree hides it from this angle. It’s the Skinner building, and it was built in 1898, so the second oldest on the block. It’s four storeys tall with an almost fully glazed facade designed by W T Dalton for Robert B Skinner and Frederick Buscombe for Jas. A Skinner’s wholesale china and glassware business.

Beyond that to the east was a rather handsome 1899 building, built for Thomas Hunter and designed by Blackmore and Sons. Today it’s one of the few ‘gap teeth’ in the city – the building was destroyed by fire in 2004. Next door to that is the oldest building on the block, the 1894 and 1898 Rogers Block built by Jonathan Rogers in two almost identical phases with William Blackmore and then Parr and Fee as architects.

Looking down the street to the south side of the 100 block, the tall building is the Stock Exchange Building, a tall skinny office that was never actually occupied by the Exchange. Today it’s an SRO that has just had an excellent façade restoration. Like the Dominion Building it was designed by J S Helyer. Next door is a more modestly scaled building at 150 West Hastings dating from 1903, then two more Jonathan Rogers investments, one developed by his wife, Elizabeth. Hidden behind the tree on the right is the Province Building which started life (in 1908) as the Carter Cotton Building. The biggest differences between the two pictures are the addition of street trees, and the reduced volume of pedestrians on the sidewalks.

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Posted December 5, 2016 by ChangingCity in Still Standing, Victory Square

BC Electric Railway car barns – Main Street at Prior

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These big industrial buildings were first constructed in 1899, and initially expanded in 1903. W T Dalton designed the first buildings, and Dalton and Eveleigh the expansion which was for an iron frame car barn costing $14,000. It was this building, so the building at the front is probably the 1899 structure, and the barn behind the addition. The BC Electric Railway Co ran the trams (streetcars) and suburbans that helped to shape the expansion of the City of Vancouver, and many of the suburban municipalities as well. There’s a bit of a debate about the date of this image – the City Archives think it’s from 1899, but other authors say it’s 1904 (which seems to make more sense). It had nine parallel tracks that could squeeze 45 streetcars inside the largest single-storey structure in the city at the time. There were four repair pits and an electric hoist. There was small store (behind the streetcar) run by George Aldrid where employees could buy fruit and tobacco.

streetcar-barns-main-prior-1969-walter-e-frost-cva-447-355The building was further expanded in 1912 when the BC Electric Railway Co planned a $40,000 addition built by Snider & Brethour. We’re unsure what that involved, as the 1912 insurance map shows a much larger building already completed along the entire street to Prior Street. We assume this happened sometime in the late 1900s when there’s a gap in available building permits. (In 1914 the rapidly expanding fleet saw the company build a new two-storey reinforced concrete barn at Main and 14th Avenue, replacing earlier structures at a cost of $300,000).

The expanded buildings that were built here can be seen in this 1969 W E Graham Archives image, long after streetcars had gone, and before the buildings were torn down to be replaced with the new Georgia Viaduct (at the eastern end it’s some distance from Georgia, between Union and Prior Street). The view will change again once the viaducts have been removed.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives Bu P212 and CVA 447-355

Posted December 1, 2016 by ChangingCity in False Creek, Gone

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