Archive for the ‘Altered’ Category

West Hastings Street west from Howe Street

This 1930s postcard shows several buildings that have been redeveloped, and three that are still standing. The extraordinary Marine Building dominates the older picture – one of Vancouver’s rare ‘street end blockers’ – and fortunately, a worthy example, designed by Vancouver’s McCartner Nairne and Partners, designing their first skyscraper. While it’s Vancouver’s finest art deco building, it was far from a positive example of development budgeting. Costing $2.3 million, it was $1.1 million over budget, and guaranteed the bankruptcy of its developers, Toronto-based G A Stimson and Co.

Stimsons were also owners of the Merchant’s Exchange, the building closest to the camera on the north (right) side of the street. That was designed by Townley & Matheson, and the building permit says it cost $100,000 and was developed in 1923 for “A. Melville Dollar Co”. Alexander Melville Dollar was from Bracebridge, Ontario, but moved to Vancouver as the Canadian Director of the Robert Dollar Company. Robert Dollar was a Scotsman who managed a world-wide shipping line from his home in San Francisco. His son Harold was based in Shanghai, overseeing the Chinese end of the Oriental trade, another son, Stanley managed the Admiral Oriental Line, and the third son, A Melville Dollar looked after the Canadian interests, including property development. (The Melville Dollar was a steamship, owned by the Dollar Steamship Company, which ran between Vancouver and Vladivostok in the early 1920s).

The larger building on the right is the Metropolitan Building, designed by John S Helyer and Son, who previously designed the Dominion Building. Beyond it is the Vancouver Club, built in 1914 and designed by Sharp and Thompson.

On the south side of the street in the distance is the Credit Foncier building, designed in Montreal by Barrot, Blackadder and Webster, and in Vancouver by the local office of the US-based H L Stevens and Co. Almost next door was the Ceperley Rounfell building, whose façade is still standing today, built in 1921 at a cost of $50,000, designed by Sharp & Thompson.

Next door was the Fairmont Hotel, that started life as the Hamilton House, developed by Frank Hamilton, and designed by C B McLean, which around the time of the postcard became the Invermay Hotel. The two storey building on the corner of Howe was built in 1927 for Macaulay, Nicolls & Maitland, designed by Sharp and Thompson. Before the building in the picture it was a single storey structure developed by Col. T H Tracey in the early 1900s. There were a variety of motoring businesses based here, including a tire store on the corner and Vancouver Motor & Cycle Co a couple of doors down (next to Ladner Auto Service, run by H N Clement). The building was owned at the time by the Sun Life Insurance Co. Today there are two red brick modest office buildings, one from 1975 and the other developed in 1981.

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Dunsmuir Street looking westwards

There are a series of undated and uncaptioned views along Dunsmuir Street in the Vancouver Archives. Here’s one, with the Pacific Centre Mall looking shiny and new, and a lot whiter (and less draped in greenery). Today there’s a walkway across the street to the north block of the mall, which was completed in 1990, so that puts the image back to the late 1980s. Across the street is the Standard Life Building from 1977 which we think was designed by McCarter Nairne and Partners, with today’s 888 Dunsmuir from 1991 beyond it. In the before image a much smaller building was on the site; beyond in both images is Park Place, the rose coloured glazed tower built in 1984.

In the foreground on the right was a tired looking two storey building that we think dated from the 1940s or perhaps 1950s. It had replaced the Tunstall Block, and the 1990 mall addition in turn replaced the later building. Today’s Holt Renfrew department store (on the north west corner of the street) has a new façade featuring slumped glass panels, added in 2007 and designed by Janson Goldstein of New York. Beyond is a 1977 office building at 595 Howe, sometimes referenced as the ‘Good Earth Building’, today hidden behind the office tower of the Pacific Centre north block.

Our earlier post (of Park Place) looking in the opposite direction dates from 1986, and we suspect that’s around when this image was also taken. Over the intervening 30 plus years there’s much more green; street trees, rooftop landscaping, and dedicated bike lane markings.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-5107

Posted December 27, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Capitol Theatre – Granville Street (2)

We saw an earlier version of the Capitol on Granville Street in a post we wrote several years ago. Here it is in a different iteration with a later façade, with the Capitol Theatre still pulling in the patrons. They were watching ‘Wait until Dark’ starring Audrey Hepburn as a young blind woman, Alan Arkin as a violent criminal searching for some drugs, and Richard Crenna as another criminal, based on a play first performed a year earlier on Broadway (in 1966).

We’re not sure what ‘Prince Eugene’ sold, in the somewhat rundown 1940s looking building next door, with Basic Fashions as its neighbour, and we don’t know the name of the business to the south, although it looks to have been another clothing store. To the south of those was a building still standing today (and recently looking even better with new less prominent retail canopies). This is the Commodore Ballroom, originally developed by George Reifel and designed by architect H H Gillingham, opening in 1929. In the basement was, and still is, the Commodore Bowling Lanes. There were always retail stores underneath the ballroom facing Granville, and they have changed on a regular basis. In 1967 we can see Canada’s largest shoe retailers, Agnew-Surpass, a business that finally closed in 2000 (although gone from here earlier). The Meyers Studios were next door, a photo studio specializing in portraits, while Dean’s Roast Chix, under the red awning, was presumably a restaurant.

The Capitol was closed and redeveloped in 2006, and the link across the lane removed. A new series of double-height retail units were developed to replace the theatre entrance and adjacent buildings, designed by Studio One Architects.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-50

Posted December 3, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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West Georgia and Homer Streets looking south

We’ve noted in other posts how parts of Downtown in the early 1980s were like the early clear-felled forest – except used as parking lots. The earlier buildings in this part of Downtown had been cleared away, but the replacement buildings took many years, and in some cases decades, to appear. There wasn’t a lot more development on the other side of the street, either.

Amazingly, we haven’t seen a view of this block, where the new central; branch of the city’s Library was completed in 1995. Architect Moshe Safdie has always denied any intentional reference to Rome’s Colosseum, and the design was the public’s preferred winner after a 1990 design competition. At the time the City’s biggest investment, the federal government supported the project by leasing an office tower and the upper floors of the internal library ‘box’. The top floors have just been returned to the City, and repurposed as stunning new rooftop gardens and meeting rooms.

Image source, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-829

Posted October 11, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Robson Street – 400 block, north side

We looked at the block to the east of here in the previous post. This block in 1981 was as empty as the 300 block. The 1970s saw a lot of clearance Downtown, but redevelopment took longer, and there was a sea of surface parking for many years.

Today there’s a strata hotel (rooms are owned by different owners as investments) and a residential tower with two floors of retail, including a supermarket.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E09.27

Posted October 8, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

West Georgia Street west from The Bay

Here’s a bonus Hotel Vancouver shot – one built from 1912 to 1916, on the left, which cost the best part of three million dollars to build, designed by Painter and Swales, and the one still standing today, started in 1928 and designed by Montreal-based architects Archibald and Schofield, but not completed until 1939.

The newly installed canopy on the Hudson’s Bay building entrance isn’t an exact replica of the original, but it’s a vast improvement on the heavy steel canopies that were added later than this 1931 image shows. The third Hotel Vancouver was at this point just a shell – it was sealed up to ensure water didn’t get in, but no interior work was carried out as the depression in the economy dragged on during the 1930s. It was only the prospect of a Royal Visit by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the city that finally prompted the completion of the new hotel. It was opened during the royal visit in 1939 having cost $12 million.

Once the third hotel was opened, the second was decommissioned, but was used to house returning war veterans during the late 1940s. It was torn down in 1949; a sad fate for an impressive structure. The site sat vacant as a parking lot for many years, until construction of the Pacific Centre Mall started in the early 1970s. This part of the site is home to the TD Tower, designed by Ceasar Pelli & Associates in bronze tinted glass, reflecting Cathedral Place and the Royal Centre across the street

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 260-226

Posted May 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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Richards and Davie Street – se corner

Here’s the north end of the 1200 block of Richards Street, which today houses the Choices supermarket – one of the earliest food stores to open in the old Downtown South commercial neighbourhood as it started its transition to high rise residential. It started life as a laundry, which was still its use in our 1981 image when it was being operated by Canadian Linen Supply. In 1929, when it was built, it was operated by Canadian Linen Co; the same company still operating over 50 years later.

The architects were Townley and Matheson, who applied their art deco styling to the industrial premises, adopted avery effectively by Stuart Howard Architects in the design of the Metropolis Tower completed on the adjacent site in 1998. The laundry building was converted to retail use as part of the same project, with a density bonus covering the cost of retaining a single storey heritage structure.

This 1934 image shows that very few changes had taken place over the life of the building up to 1981, when it looked very similar, and the scale of the surrounding area matched. These days there’s a park across the street, and a series of residential towers have replaced almost all the older commercial structures.

Image sources; City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-E08.15 and CVA 99-4653

Posted April 23, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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