729 Hamilton Street

Fire Hall No. 1 was probably newly built when this 1950s image was shot. We wouldn’t know who had designed the third location of the city’s Fire Hall No. 1 if the picture wasn’t listed as part of the Townley and Matheson fonds, in the Archives collection. The building replaced the Cordova Street fire hall, which in turn had replaced the first building on Water Street. It was only here for about 20 years; in 1975 the new Heatley Street Fire Hall No. 1 was opened, and Fire Hall No. 8 was opened further down Hamilton Street in 1974 to retain a Downtown fire fighting base – the land for that building having been acquired in 1971 for $60,000!

Here’s another view of the building, designed in the international style, and seen here in 1962. The equipment is on display because the Fire Department had taken delivery of a new set of fire trucks. The urgency to move the relatively new facility was to facilitate ‘The Federal Block’ – an anticipated major government investment proposed in the early 1970s. The entire block, by 1981, was a vacant parking lot, but the project never materialized, and finally, in 1995, Moshe Safdie’s design for the new Vancouver Public Library Central Branch was completed. The Federal Government contributed to the library project by agreeing to lease the corner office tower, and some upper floors, for 20 years. The tower is still Federal offices, but the upper floors of the main building have now been converted to library use, with public access possible very soon to the rooftop garden.

Image sources: City of Vancouver CVA 1399-461 and CVA 354-260

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Posted September 17, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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