Archive for the ‘Altered’ Category

Burrard Inlet waterfront from above

This 1965 aerial lines up really well with Trish Jewison’s shot posted six months ago and taken from the Global BC traffic helicopter. There were very few landmarks available to match the pictures. Way up at the top right, behind the Citygate towers lined up across the end of False Creek, Pacific Central Station (the Canadian Northern station) still runs a few trains across Canada and into the US. Next to it, today, the new St Paul’s Hospital is under construction. In 1965 there were still tracks from the Great Northern Railway; the station was demolished very soon before this picture was taken, (to avoid taxes).

The tracks that now terminate behind the CP Station at Waterfront used to run westwards (towards the bottom of the picture) through Coal Harbour. The Marine Building sat on the top of a cliff overlooking the tracks (that had been laid along the beach). The area where the train tracks were is now a row of expensive condo towers, marking the edge of the Central Business District to the south. Remarkably, in 1965 the northern end of the Central Business District was still dominated by The Marine Building. The first Bentall Centre tower broke ground in June 1965, and topped out exactly a year later. The site is already under construction in the picture. The second was completed in 1969, both now dwarfed by later and taller towers (with a fifth tower on the block under construction and a sixth recently proposed).

On the waterfront Canada Place was built on Canadian Pacific’s Piers B-C, originally constructed in 1915, with the buildings added in 1927. The Convention Centre occupies the space under the sails, and was expanded with the new addition with the huge green roof in 2009. It sits where Pier A once stood, with the Canada Immigration Building still standing beside it. The Pier was cleared away in 1968, and the Immigration Building was demolished in 1976 to create more space for the CPR trailer pier parking area.

The shoreline today is quite different from when the waterfront had industrial uses, and Harbour Green Park sits where there were a series of oil tanks. Bayshore Marina was already in existence, as was the Bayshore Hotel to the west, with the main wing opening as The Bayshore Inn in 1961, and the tower added in 1970. The hotel sold for redevelopment in 2015 for $290m.

Image sources City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-417 (copyright, Townley & Matheson fonds), and Trish Jewison, July 2021, Global BC traffic helicopter.


Posted 3 January 2022 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Pacific Street east from Burrard

It’s hard to believe there was so little along this stretch of Pacific Street in the 1980s. The picture is undated – it’s listed as being taken some time between 1980 and 1997. We can fix that because of the Kilborn Building, the red brick office complex on the north side of Pacific. In the image it’s just completing construction, so this is most likely to be 1982. Waisman Dewar Grout Architects designed the 7 storey office building, clad in the City Planner of the day’s favoured brick veneer.

There had been houses along Pacific on both sides of the block headed east since the 1890s. The houses on the south side of this block were cleared away for the construction of the Burrard Bridge, while on this side there had been just one house, fronting Burrard Street and beyond the lane were four single storey cottages. They predated the turn of the century, and their early residents held responsible positions. There was Thomas Sharp in No. 1, manager of the Globe Sign Works. Fred Cope was at No. 2, a contractor later involved with a large electrical wholesaling company that bore the family name. At No. 3 was Mr. Eaton, who worked for the CPR, and at No. 4 H J Saunders, the bookkeeper for Robertson & Hackett’s sawmill, who shared his address with Mrs. Elizabeth Peat, a ladies nurse. Jacob Hoffmeister, an electrician and business partner with his brother Reinhart lived in 1386 Burrard, the first house past Pacific up the hill, which he built for $2,000 in 1905. The lane between his house and the cottages was built over when the Kilborn Building was developed.

Beyond Hornby there was, and is, a small house. It used to be just off Pacific, on Hornby, and for decades was home to Il Giardino, Umberto Menghi’s legendary Italian restaurant. He sold up in 2013, and developer Grosvenor proposed a condo tower with zig-zag balconies, designed in Montreal. The Leslie House, the 1888 house last used as the restaurant was lifted, shifted, and now sits on Pacific on new foundations just beyond the tower. The developers also offered to build an 8-storey arts building (production space, not residential) on the lot to the east. It has a black-and-white staggered facade, just visible under the traffic light.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-273


Posted 27 December 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

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157 Water Street

This seven storey warehouse has been redeveloped recently with its more modest next door neighbour. The facade is all that was retained, so today it’s part of a contemporary concrete framed building that shouldn’t suffer damage in the event of an earthquake.

The window frames on the top two floors have been replaced to match the remainder of the building, which was initially intended to have three storeys. We don’t know who designed the building, but Edward Cook was the contractor for the development, which was for the BC Plate Glass & Importing Company; he submitted the permit in 1905, and additions in 1906. The Province reported that he “intended to be 3-storeys, however, he rented the add’l floors as rapidly as they could be planned“. Edward was a prolific contractor with over 40 buildings constructed by 1891. He had arrived in spring 1886, and built a small house for his family to move into, but it burned down in the fire a few days later, and their first home was a tent. Edward developed a few projects for himself, but here we assume he might have been the contractor (and possible the designer) of the building.

The glass business was run by Arthur Bogardus, Charles Wickens and Frank Begg. Bogardus and Wickens had a retail and glazing business, and Frank Begg joined them in the early 1900s. They moved into a Yaletown warehouse a few years after this. They were still based here in 1910, sharing the building with the Otis-Fensom Elevator Co. Both businesses had moved to new Yaletown buildings by 1913, when Burke & Wood Ltd, a freight transfer company, Alcock & Downing, importers, the Carey Safe Co (warehouse) and R Madden & Son, wholesale produce occupied the building. In 1920 A P Slade’s produce warehouse took over the entire building, which they continued to occupy for many years.

By 1950 Eaton’s, the department store, had taken over the space. As Gastown was converted to a destination retail location this became home on the lower floors to the Games Company, who were here in this 1985 image. There was a 1995 proposal to convert the upper floors to residential use, but that never happened. The recent redevelopment initially proposed to rebuild the facade as 6 storeys, re-using the existing bricks but creating greater floor to ceiling height. That idea was dropped, and all seven floors were recreated in a concrete frame behind the facade. The building (including the adjacent Harper Warehouse) was fully leased to Microsoft while still under construction. A French-Japanese music and fashion label store and their associated Café Kitsuné will occupy the retail spaces.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2089


Posted 25 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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151 Water Street

We have waited to look at the history of this early Water Street warehouse until completion of the new office building that has been built behind, and above, the restored facade. Initially three additional floors were proposed to be added in a complementary ‘heritage’ style, but the plans were changed to add greater height in a contemporary style, set back to retain the heritage element’s integrity.

This was a 1912 warehouse developed by J M Harper and designed by A J Bird. Seen here in 1985, it had already transitioned to retail use, but it started life as a produce warehouse, built by Willis and Fisher for $16,000. Mr. Harper was an absentee developer, living in Kamloops where he was a partner in a wholesaling and retailing business supplying miners. He partnered with A S McArthur, both in the dry goods business and in property development in Vancouver, including a building at Hastings and Main.

J M Harper was often referred to in the press as Major Harper (having raised a mounted military unit in 1908), and he had extensive business interests. He was also an independent voice in the community. When Kamloops Board of Trade petitioned for the local Kamloops Band reserve to be reduced in size in 1913, Major Harper was one of few voices in opposition, “J.M. Harper merely pointed out that the Indians had never been treated fairly by whites and in any event Kamloops had a lot of room to branch out in without bothering the Indians.”

In the 1911 census James M Harper was aged 51, living on ‘income’, with his wife Elizabeth who was 48 and five children aged between 8 and 20. Both parents were shown born in Scotland, and we can track the family’s movements before settling in Kamloops; their oldest daughter, ‘Ena’, was born in Alberta in 1891 and Norman, their 18-year-old son in Manitoba. The other sons and daughter were born in BC. (Ena was Georgena in the 1901 census, born in the Northwest Territories, and Elizabeth was shown born in Ontario. In 1891 the family were living in Lethbridge, when Alberta was still part of the North-West Territories). From their son’s 1920 wedding in Vancouver, we can find his father was James Milne Harper, and his mother Elizabeth Paterson. James was born in Banffshire in 1859, one of 10 children.

Tragically, their son, Norman Stuart Harper, was killed on active service in the First World War. A postcard, written to his mother, showed up in a Washington state antique store. It revealed that he was in hospital in London in May 1918, having been injured landing his bi-plane. Less than two months later he was shot down and killed while on a bombing mission over Germany. He was buried by the Germans with full military honours, but his family only managed to trace his death in 1920. The 1921 census shows James and Elizabeth still in Kamloops, with three children still at home and Georgina Paterson, Elizabeth’s sister living with them. J M Harper died in Vancouver in 1937, already widowed.

The newly completed building attracted multiple tenants; Olmstead Budd Co Ltd wholesale fruit suppliers, Swartz Bros wholesale fruits, California Fruit Growers Exchange, Pacific Fruit & Produce Co and A Francis Tourville, produce broker. In 1920 The Foottit Co., Ltd became the tenants here, produce dealers headed by Harold and Ernest Foottit. A year earlier they were both working for F R Stewart and Co, a rival produce business whose premises were a few doors to the west. Harold was 39, and had arrived in BC in 1906. His wife Edith Longfellow arrived from England a year later, (they had married in 1905), and their son, (Harold) Raymond was born in 1914. Ernest was two years younger, and like his brother came from Hull. Ernest married Beatrice Thorley, who was also from Hull, in 1908, Harold Foottit was living in Vancouver when he died in 1968. Ernest died in 1971, in Seattle, where he was Superintendent of the Home Savings Building for many years, and was buried in Burnaby.

Their business didn’t prosper, and by 1923 W R Cook and Co had moved in here. Both Foottit brothers returned to working for F R Stewart. By 1930 the Independent Fruit Co had moved in, and a decade later the building was occupied by Slade and Stewart who were also in the adjacent building. Later Robison Cotton Mills used the warehouse, and as the area became more of a tourist destination in the 1960s an antique and contemporary art dealer took over the space. In recent years it became known as a destination for buying first nations art and artefacts, in Frances Hill’s store. Recently redeveloped, a flagship clothing store are fitting out the retail units while Microsoft have occupied the offices on the upper floors.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2090


Posted 18 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Gastown

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Kitsilano and Downtown from above

This 1968 Vancouver Archives image lines up pretty well with Trish Jewison’s June 2021 helicopter view. By 1968 quite a few towers had been built in the West End, especially closer to English Bay, but there are many more today. In 1971, the census after the ‘before’ image was taken, there were 37,000 residents in the West End, 2,000 of them aged 14 or under. In 2016 that had risen to 47,000, and there were still 2,000 aged under 15. In the foreground Kitsilano has added 9,000 over those 45 years, going from 34,000 in 1971 to 43,000 in 2016. The number of children has also hardly changed; falling slightly from 4,500 in 1971 to 4,300.

The greatest density change, and population rise is in Downtown, running east from Burrard (which can be see cutting north from the Burrard Bridge in 1968). The BC Electric headquarters of the day can be seen on Nelson Street at Burrard; in 1968 it was an office building with old houses nearby. in 1971 Downtown only had 6,500 residents, and only 175 of them aged under 15. In 2016 that had risen to 62,000 residents, 4,000 of them aged 0-14. The renamed ‘Electra’ is now a mostly residential condo building.

Vanier Park, the green area behind the Museum of Vancouver (with its Haida hat roof) looks a bit bigger today. That’s because it is (although the slightly different angles and elevations of the two images may exaggerate the difference a little). In an era before DFO permits, and concerns for riparian habitat, Park Board supervisor William Livingstone accepted the fill from the excavation for the Macmillan Bloedel tower that was being built Downtown in 1968, and had it bulldozed into False Creek to create a larger park.

Then, as now, the biggest building in the Kits Point neighbourhood was developer (and mayor in 1968) Tom Campbell’s ‘Parkview Towers’, designed by Peter Kaffka and completed in 1961. That’s likely to change a lot soon, as the Squamish nation are planning on developing Sen̓áḵw, an 11-tower, predominantly rental project with 6,000 units on the relatively newly-confirmed Indian Reserve. Concord Pacific have acquired the former Molson brewery across the street, and are no doubt ho[ping to build a lot more than a replacement industrial development.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 215-31 and Trish Jewison, Global BC traffic helicopter.


Posted 11 November 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

City Hotel – Powell Street

By 1911 the City Hotel looked pretty much as it does in this 1985 Archives image. The unusual shape was thanks to the railway track that sliced across the angle of the block that faced Columbia, leaving an irregular lot 50 feet wide on Powell Street, where there was a saloon, and closer to 80 feet on Alexander, where another hotel entrance was located.

There was a hotel here, called the City Hotel, as early as 1887, run by “Desantels & Co”. There had been an earlier City Hotel, in Granville, that burned down in 1886. The 1882 directory said: “THE CITY HOTEL, on Columbia street, Mrs. Bonson proprietress, is the only hotel in the city without a bar; has accommodation for 30 guests; it is well conducted, with moderate charges”.

The replacement, after the fire, occupied the middle 25 feet of the Powell frontage, (so the section of the Powell facade later rebuilt with the greater gap between the windows), with a Chinese Laundry occupying the back of the lot on Alexander Street. The wooden building was co-owned by Alphonse Fairon, a Belgian, and R G Desautels, who was from Montreal. M. Desautels had briefly been a butcher with Patrick Gannon, and after the fire ran the Stag and Pheasant on Water Street with M Fairon. Charles Doering (who was actually Carl) sold the Stag and Pheasant to Fairon and Miller in 1888. (Mr. Miller was almost certainly Jonathan Miller who had a wide variety of business interests and seems to have had financial partnerships with both Fairon and Desautels at different times).

Alphonse had arrived in Portland in 1872, and initially settled in Wisconsin, before moving north. In 1890 he owned the City Hotel with Louis Canonica, and in 1892 his housekeeper was Marie-Louise Desautels, R G Desautels’ wife. R G had apparently left the city, but on his death in 1898 was buried in Mountain View Cemetery. Alphonse then married Marie-Louise, who was nine years younger, and they are shown in both the 1901 and 1911 census records. Alphonse carried out repairs to the frame building in 1903, so we know it was still standing then. Marie Louise died in 1911, and Alphonse in 1918.

By 1905 the hotel had a new owner, Chinese merchant Sam Kee and Co. ‘Sam’ was entirely ficticious, but the company that bore his name was owned by Chang Toy, who had extensive business interests across Chinatown and in other parts of the city. Although there are no permits available in the early 1900s, the Province reported that he hired Hooper & Watkins to design a $10,500 brick building on the lot that held the wooden hotel, and the one to the east, with the angled facade.

He added to the building again in 1909, spending $16,000 on a ‘brick addition’ designed by Townsend & Townsend. Based on this 1912 image of the Columbia Street frontage, we would guess that was the top floor, which doesn’t exactly match the brickwork of the three below. A further more expensive addition in 1910 was designed by W F Gardiner, and we think that must be the part of the building to the west, which has a strange angle to the Columbia facade, that doesn’t match the earlier building, but which maximizes the space in the building. Costing Sam Kee & Co $55,000, it was built by R P Forshaw, like the 1909 addition.

Sam Kee were careful to ensure their investment wasn’t seen as a Chinese business. A variety of ‘proprietors’ ran the hotel over the years. Alberrt Paucsche & Joseph Tapella ran the hotel in 1908, and Robert Swanson in 1910. Wrongly identified as ‘Bill Swanson’ in the heritage statement, he was born in Scotland although his family roots were Swedish. Married to an American, Charlotte, the census said they had arrived in 1904 and by 1911 had two children, Margaret and John. Robert’s widowed father, John Swanson, also lived with them. The census wasn’t entirely accurate, as Robert Swanson married Charlotte Turner in Nanaimo in 1903. He ran the Provincial Hotel there with a partner, William Hardy, and was apparently briefly a wrestler (but not a successful one). Robert Swanson went on to manage the Belmont Hotel on Granville Street, and was able to ensure all the patrons were safely evacuated when fire broke out in 1937, severely damaging the building. He died in Vancouver in 1955.

Charles Doering, the brewer, apparently continued to have an interest in the hotel. When he died in 1927, it was part of his estate, valued at $65,000 and described as ‘registered in the name of Chang Toy’. By 1940 the hotel had become The Anchor Hotel, taking a Columbia street address. In 1972 the bar still operating with the required men’s and ladies’ entrances. The Background / Vancouver Project, photographed the building that year.

A variety of clubs and bars have occupied the main and basement floors in more recent years, with clubs like sugarandsugar, and more recently Brooklyn Gastown.

Upstairs the rooms are no longer occupied by welfare recipients, as the SRO rooms have been ‘fully renovated’ as micro units, with rents to match. ‘Come with a kitchenette: sink, mini fridge-just need to bring your own hot plate. Shared washrooms cleaned daily. 4 bathrooms per floor. Coin operated laundry on each floor. No pets. No Smoking.’

A new extensively glazed ‘vertical addition’, designed by K C Mooney, has been constructed in wood frame by utilizing the existing light well as the location of a new exit stair, while constructing the new addition as an independently supported section above the SRO floors.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 790-2421, CVA 359-32 and Background / Vancouver.


False Creek from Above westwards 2

A recent holiday aerial, posted five weeks ago, showed False Creek looking westwards in 1981, when the mills along False Creek were closed and the idea for organizing a World Fair in Vancouver was being discussed. That became Expo ’86, and put the city on the world map in ways that some loved, and others think was the start of a different and (to them) less attractive city.

Here’s a similar view, but from earlier. This was photographed in 1954, when the Granville Bridge in the distance was shiny and very new, (and the old 1909 bridge was still in place at a much lower level). The Cambie Bridge in the middle of the picture was the old Connaught Bridge, with the pivoting section to allow shipping to reach the eastern end of False Creek. (The new bridge was built alongside on a slightly different alignment).

Expo ’86, and then Concord Pacific Place, replace the railyards and train repair facilities developed by Canadian Pacific in the late 1880s and 1890s. The semi circular engine roundhouse was initially built in 1888, and expanded in 1911. Located almost exactly half way between the Granville and Cambie bridges, since 1997 it’s been the Community Centre for the new residential neighbourhood (and is almost completely lost in the sea of towers in this view).

The BC Place stadium sits on more former railyards, the site of a box factory, and an asphalt plant. The gasholder and plant were on the north eastern side of the Creek, generating the polluted land that remains to this day, that has been partly capped with Andy Livingstone Park. A new Creekside Park will serve a similar role for contaminated land where the coal gas plant once stood, when the area around the viaducts is redeveloped. As there were still lumber mills and a barrel manufacturer on False Creek in the 1950s, it was filled with rafts of logs. Rolling them into the ocean, tying them together into rafts, and towing them to the water beside the mill was the easiest way to transport the logs. The remaining mills on the Fraser River use the same methods today, and there are still booming yards where the log booms are temporarily stored until the mill can process the logs.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 228-383 and Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter, on her twitter feed on 12 March 2021


Posted 11 October 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

Central Business District from above (4)

Here’s another view of Downtown from the air – this time we’re looking at 41 years of change, from 1980 to August 2021 When Trish Jewison posted the image she took from the Global BC traffic helicopter. We’re looking down on the Marine Building, with the Guinness Building alongside on the edge of an escarpment, with railtracks and freight yards to the north on the area reclaimed from the beach along Burrard Inlet.

Where there was a barge ramp 40 years before, there is now the green expanse of the roof of the Convention Centre’s west building, opened in 2009. In 1980 the first Convention Centre building had yet to be constructed.

The two towers in front of the Marine Building today are the Shaw Tower and the Fairmont Pacfic Rim Hotel, both designed by James K M Cheng and developed by Westbank in 2004 and 2010. Both have roads around them which are effectively huge bridges; underneath are the service areas and an underground road network. Those raised roads continue around the Waterfront Centre offices and Hotel, to the east, developed by CP’s Marathon Realty in 1991. Tucked in behind the Marine Building, the University Club is now the base of MNP Tower, a curved blue office tower. To the south was the Customs House by CBK Van Norman, replaced in the early 2000s with a new Federal office building.

Burrard Street runs south, in front of the Marine Building, and as we’ve noted in many posts here had modest buildings on the east side from the 1950s or earlier for many years, until Park Place and Commerce Place were both built in 1984, followed by newer towers including Bentall 5 in the 2000s. Three of the Bentall Centre towers, and the Royal Centre were already built in 1980, and the fourth, and largest, Bentall tower was completed in 1981 An additional 16 storey wood-frame tower has just been revealed, planned to replace one of the project’s parkades. Tucked in behind the Royal Centre is the Burrard Building, in 1980 in its original cladding and today with a replacement skin that looks like the architect originally intended. The more recent curtain wall technology allowed a larger glazing area than was first built, as the architect CBK Van Norman had first sketched.

This might look like an already ‘built out’ area, but there are two more office towers under construction, including the tallest built in the city, The Stack, another James Cheng design towards the top right of the image, replacing a parkade on Melville Street that hadn’t been built in 1980. At least one more already approved at 30 storeys to replace a 1970s building with 15 floors, as well as the proposed additional Bentall building, to be called Burrard Exchange.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1376-650 and Trish Jewison, twitter 8.8.21


Posted 30 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

West Georgia Street – north side

We had to make up a title for this image, which was taken some time in the 1970s or early 80s. It was part of the City Engineers slide collection – and the best they could come up with was ‘Untitled’. We’re guessing early 1980s, because the park here was established in 1983, with funds from the Calgary-based Devonian Group of Charitable Foundations who provided over $600,000 to develop the site.

We’ve seen in an earlier post that there were buildings along this side of West Georgia as recently as 1964. The land here became vacant in 1959, when the Georgia Auditorium (built in 1927) was demolished. It was a popular venue with 2,500 seats, but became irrelevant after the construction of the QE Theatre Downtown. Behind it the Vancouver Arena had been built in 1911, a much larger arena with 10,500 seats and the city’s ice hockey and curling rink. It burned down in 1936.

Once those buildings had gone, there was still a lot of asphalt, but not much happening on the waterfront here 40 years ago. Since the picture was taken the spindly new trees have matured, and Devonian Harbour Park is effectively a continuation of Stanley Park. There’s a different sort of forest to the east – the forest of Bayshore towers. On the left, on the waterfront, the Waterfront Residences were designed by Henriquez Partners, and completed in 1999. Next to the street, the 1710 Bayshore Drive condo buildings were designed by Eng, Wright and Bruckner and completed two years earlier. The developers were a Japanese company, Aoki Corporation. They acquired the land when they bought the Westin Corporation, which had developed the Westin Bayshore Hotel, visible in the distance. It was designed by D C Simpson in 1961, with the 20 storey tower added in 1970.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2709


Posted 23 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

False Creek from Above westwards 1

It’s another holiday, so we’re looking at another image shot by Trish Jewison from the Global BC traffic helicopter. This time we’re over the end of False Creek, and the ‘before’ (found on another twitter stream, with no identified attribution) comes from 1981. BC Place stadium is underway, and next to the old Cambie Bridge the Sweeney Cooperage has already closed down. To the west of the bridge the railtracks of the marshalling yards have already been removed. The CBC Studios can be seen, built in 1974, and today the Central Library occupies the site to the north.

By the early 1980s the West End already had already seen plenty of recently developed towers, and had a population of 37,000. In the next 25 years it added over 10,000, and today has probably closer to 50,000 residents. Today there are well over 60,000 in the remaining part of the Downtown Peninsula, but in 1981 there were only just over 6,000.

On the left the Olympic Village just comes into shot, with Canada House beyond the shipyards basin and the Community Centre towards the bottom of the picture. The man-made habitat island was built to maintain the length of natural shoreline, which today is far less toxic than when the mix of heavy industries lined the southern shore of the Creek. The worst of the polluted lands on the north side of the Creek were capped and turned into parks, to avoid disturbance and likely contamination of the water. A final Creekside Park is planned for the bottom right of the picture, where two huge freight transfer sheds stood in the early 1980s, although they would soon be torn down to allow the construction of Expo ’86.


Posted 6 September 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered