False Creek eastwards from above

Here’s another of Trish Jewison’s recent shots from the Global BC traffic helicopter, manipulated slightly to fit an earlier Archives image – this one from 1947. This one was taken in May this year, as the twisting Vancouver House was nearing completion. From this angle it looks like a large, but perfectly normal rectangular tower, but it has a triangular base (to fit next to Granville Bridge), which gradually grows to a rectangular upper portion. Designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, it’s the most dramatic new building seen in the city in decades. It includes a new local shopping centre, with supermarket and drugstore, as well as public art suspended from the underside of the Granville Bridge. In 1947 there was a 35 year old 4 storey warehouse, and some single storey commercial buildings, which all remained until redevelopment started in 2015.

In the foreground Granville Island had even more buildings than it does today, all in industrial uses, mostly related to the fishing, logging and sawmill industries. There was a chain maker, saw blade supplier, forge and rope manufacturers. There was a net loft and a rigging company, a ship repairer (and a coffee shop). Today there are many more coffee shops, and the only real industrial use is the Ocean Cement plant next to Granville Bridge.

The rail bridge that was still around in 1947 was the Kitsilano trestle. It was built by the CPR (but the last steam train to Steveston ran in 1905) and was then used by the BC Electric Railway. The trestle started out as a link in an electric passenger transit system using street cars and connecting downtown Vancouver with farms on the South Side of False Creek and beyond. It connected the south shore of Vancouver to the railyards that filled the land between Yaletown and False Creek. The rail ran all the way to Carrall Street, where the Interurban headquarters was located. The trestle was removed in the early 80’s as it was in poor condition, rarely used and a navigational hazard. The original right-of-way can still be seen, curving around the Harbour Cove and Mariner Point residential buildings built in the mid 1980s.

Om the north side of False Creek, once the railyards were removed, BC Place Stadium was constructed, moving major sports into Downtown. The rest of the site became home to Expo 86, which reached round the Creek all the way to Granville Bridge. Sold as a single piece of property to the company now known as Concord Pacific, thousands of apartments (including non-market and seniors housing) have since been built on the land. There are still a few remaining sites to redevelop, and inland there are plans to add another tower as tall as Vancouver House on the opposite side of the bridge. Further towers will be developed to the north when the loops from Granville Bridge are removed. The site at the bottom of the pictures will see the greatest change; the Squamish Nation have unveiled plans for 6,000 apartments in 11 towers on the Indian Reserve land they were given back after the rail use was abandoned.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives  CVA 59-03 and Trish Jewison, Global TV traffic helicopter.

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Posted November 11, 2019 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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