Archive for the ‘Altered’ Category

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

Granville Loops from Above

There are loops at both the north and south end of Granville Bridge. We’re looking at the Downtown end of the bridge, and at a contemporary image taken by Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter and published in July 2020. Vancouver House, the cantilevered Bjarke Ingles designed rental and condo tower had already been topped out next to the bridge.

The before image dates back to 1968, when Downtown South was still a mixture of rooming house hotels on Granville Street and low-rise commercial uses both east and west of Granville. Pacific Street runs underneath the bridge, and to the west Beach Avenue ran up to the bridge, but to the east were rail tracks and a sawmill. These days Beach continues as Beach Crescent, looping up around the top of George Wainborn Park, built over the capped contaminated land from the decades of industrial uses. Six buildings developed by Concord Pacific can be seen developed around the western and northern edges of the park. Another tower is planned across from Vancouver House, with a similarly tall tower of condos over a podium of non-market housing to be owned by the City.

There are plans to remove the loops, which occupy a lot of land, and replace them with new streets following the prevailing grid. That will allow two more development sites to be released for four more towers. The Continental Hotel, which sat in the middle of the eastern loop, has already been demolished, although it was still standing when we posted its history in 2013. Across the street to the north the Cecil Hotel has also gone, replaced with the Rolston condo tower, although the adjacent Yale Hotel has been saved.

Further north the biggest slab building in the image in 1968 was the headquarters of BC Electric. It was 11 years old in 1968, and shone out like a beacon at night as the lights were always left on. (The electricity bill went to the owners). Today it’s still there, hidden behind the Wall Centre tower and called The Electra. It’s now a mix of residential condos and commercial units and was converted in 1995,when it had a new skin (as offices generally don’t have opening windows, but that’s a requirement for residential units). To its left St Paul’s Hospital was more obvious in 1968, and just as likely to fall down in the event of the anticipated earthquake. Its replacement is under construction, and Concord Pacific have agreed to pay $1 billion for the old hospital as a future redevelopment.

In the area above the top of Vancouver House there are plans already approved for several more high-rise towers. The first to be built, The Butterfly, is already under construction behind the First Baptist Church (which is getting a major seismic upgrade as part of the development).

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 215-22 and Trish Jewison, Global BC on twitter.


Posted 2 August 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, West End

Central Business District from above (3)

Our ‘before’ image was most likely taken in 1969, and the contemporary shot was published in February of this year. We think the image dates from the fall of 2018. The angle and elevation are, for once, almost identical. Many of the buildings standing in 1966 are still there today, but not all of them.

The far left of the image shows the Hotel Vancouver, and to the west the Burrard Building. It looks slightly different because it was re-clad in 1988. Behind it was, and is, the MacMillan Bloedel Building. In 1969, the year it was completed, it stood alone; now it’s jostled by the Royal Centre and the later phases of the Bentall Centre. In 1969 only the first two buildings had been completed, still standing today but hidden by the larger Bentall V tower across Burrard Street.

Across the street from the Hotel Vancouver was the Georgia Medical Dental Building replaced in 1991 with Cathedral Place, with a roofline that is either a copy of, or an homage to, the Hotel’s copper roof. Towards Burrard Inlet from the Bentall Centre was the 1955 Customs Building designed by CBK Van Norman, (and no longer standing) and then the Marine Building, still standing apart in 1969. Today the top of the tower is just visible, surrounded by newer office and hotel buildings – and condo towers beyond on Coal Harbour.

Closer to us, the Vancouver Block with its distinctive clock tower can still be seen, and in 1969 the cranes were starting assembly of the TD Tower, the first part of the Pacific Centre Mall. The York Hotel and Granville Mansions were still standing, although not for long as they would soon be replaced by the departmental store section of the Mall. The Bay department store still stands unchanged from it’s second iteration – although that may not be true for too many more years. The date the image was taken can be estimated from the tower apparently changing colour, towards the right edge of the picture. The Cannacord Tower was re-clad with a lighter skin of double-glazed windows while the tenants remained working inside; the work was about a third of the way down from the top in August or September 2018. Tucked into the bottom left corner of the image, the new City Library can be seen. In 1969 several blocks in this part of the city centre were surface parking lots and short parkade structures. Towards the bottom of the picture, the Kingston Hotel had one on either side; now it has a 46 storey condo tower and a 22 storey office headquarters as neighbours.

Image sources: Ted Czolowoski published in ‘Through Lion’s Gate’ in 1969, published by the Greater Vancouver Real Estate Board, Trish Jewison in the Global BC helicopter, on her twitter feed 2 February 2021.


Posted 1 July 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

West Pender Street – 300 block, south side

There has been one building replaced since this 1975 image was shot by W E Graham. On the right is the Victoria Block, (today part of the Victorian Hotel). designed by W F Gardiner in 1909 for the National Finance Co. Next door, the miniature temple is the British Columbia Permanent Loan & Savings Co’s premises. It was designed by Hooper and Watkins in 1907, and was one of the first reinforced concrete structures in the city, costing $40,000 and built by A E Carter. On the outside it has a sandstone skin, while inside there’s marble, elaborate plaster ceilings designed by Charles Marega, and a gorgeous Tiffany-style stained-glass skylight, featuring leaves and fruit. The decorative castings were the work of Fraser and Garrow, who advertised themselves as being “perfectly at home in any manner of work that makes for the embellishment of interiors or exteriors.”

The developer was a local finance house whose founder was Thomas Talton Langlois, originally from Gaspe in Quebec. He arrived in in BC in 1898 when he was 31, and already a successful businessman. Here he organized the British Columbia Permanent Loan Co.; was president, of the National Finance Co. Ltd., the Prudential Investment Co. Ltd. and the Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Co. He also developed an Arbutus subdivision which had pre-fabricated craftsman style houses built in a factory on West 2nd Avenue, and then re-erected on site.

The building was completed at the point where the developer was facing a minor problem. The Times Colonist advertised “A REWARD OF ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. A reward of $100.00 will be paid to any person furnishing evidence which will lead to the conviction of the person who has started or any other person or persons who are spreading a report to the effect that the British Columbia Permanent Loan & Savings Company is losing or liable to lose money through its connection with any subsidiary, company. The B. C. Permanent has absolutely no connection with any other company, either in the way of investments or loans, except a balance of one hundred and twenty-five shares, being one-twelfth of the Issued capital stock of the. Pacific Coast Fire Insurance Company, This investment was authorized by unanimous vote of the shareholders some six years ago and has proven an exceptionally profitable Investment. For confirmation of these facts we would refer any person to the company’s auditor, Mr. W. T. Stein, C. A., Vancouver.”

Thomas Langlois, like many successful Vancouver business people, retired to California. He moved in 1921, and died there in 1937 and was buried in Inglewood Park Cemetery. From 1935 the building became home to the Bank Of Canada. In 1979 it was altered to office space and renamed Park House, and in the past few years has been repurposed as an event space called The Permanent.

To the east is a former printing company building, which has been redeveloped with the adjacent site for Covenant House, a not-for-profit organization that supports street youth. The 1929 building was designed by J S D Taylor for McBeth & Campbell. The facade was renovated in 1948 by architect W H Birmingham. It was given Neo-classical treatments including a decorative cornice installed below the original corbelled brick parapet. In 1998 it was redeveloped and the facade tied into the new 50 bed hostel, designed by Nigel Baldwin.

The small brick building to the east (that looks like small houses) was redeveloped for the 1998 scheme, and had originally extended to the 1929 building site as well. It was developed by ‘National’ (Presumably the National Finance Co), designed by W F Gardiner and cost $7,000 to build in 1909.

At the end of the block Hooper and Watkins (again) designed the $25,000 I.O.O.F Hall, and Lyric Theatre in 1906. The main floor space these days is a furniture store.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1135-17


Downtown from Above (3)

Here’s another of Trish Jewison’s helicopter aerial shots, matched as closely as we can to an Archives image. This was on her Twitter feed in July last year. The before image is really early for an aerial image – it’s from 1926. We recently used the same 2020 image (more tightly cropped) to compare with a 1980s before image.

Burrard Street, on the extreme left hand edge, didn’t have a bridge at the end. It was a wide boulevard with houses and churches, in an area with mostly speculative houses along Howe and Hornby. Between Burrard and Hornby there’s a large building that takes up a whole city block, and interrupted the lane. That was the West End School, (later the Dawson School) which had a building facing Helmcken, and another on Burrard.

Granville Street, running from Burrard Inlet to False Creek, takes a jog to the south. That’s because the road crossed on the second Granville Bridge from 1909, replaced in 1954 with the structure we have today, which was built on the line of the first 1889 bridge. Today’s forest of residential towers in Downtown South (often called Yaletown by realtors) fill the space between the warehouse district of Yaletown and Granville Street. The lower form of the early 1900s Yaletown warehouses can still be clearly seen. Concord Pacific’s redevelopment fill the waterfront railyards that were briefly home to Expo ’86. The heavy industries located along False Creek created significantly contaminated ground, and the post-expo plan created a series of parks that capped the worst contaminated sites, avoiding the potential problems associated with removing them.

In the distance the first Georgia Viaduct can be seen following a parallel line to today’s pair of roads. The original was so poorly built that it wasn’t considered safe to run streetcars into Downtown from the East End. Beyond it the East End, as it was known, still has a significant concentration of buildings from the earliest years of the city’s development. We have featured hundreds of them over the past decade, as well as some that have been replaced. Along Burrard Inlet the port has seen major growth and redevelopment, with the Centerm container facility still being expanded to the west, and Vanterm to the east. Centerm occupies the site at the foot of Heatley Avenue that was the location of the first significant development of the future city, the Hastings Mill. It opened in 1865, and closed two years after this picture was taken.

Image source: Trish Jewison in the Global BC traffic helicopter, published on twitter on 25 July 2020 and City of Vancouver Archives Van Sc P68


Posted 24 May 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered

East Pender Street – 200 block, north side

This view of Chinatown dates from 1972. It’s only down the street that things have changed (with a new building hidden by the street trees). At this end the buildings are the same – although there was more activity fifty years ago than there is today, and more businesses have closed now that the COVID pandemic has affected the area.

Closest to us on the right is the East Hotel. It was designed by S B Birds for Lee Kee, a Chinese merchant, and opened in 1912 as the Hotel Reco. Beyond it down the hill are two 25 foot wide buildings; BC Assessment think 279 E Pender was built in 1928, although the permit is from 1922, when Bedford Davidson was hired by Baxter and Wright to build the $4,500 investment. 275 is from 1949, although its design suggests it’s older. The building that was here earlier was probably part of Carl (or Charles) Schwan’s estate; a hotel owner and part of a prominent family of bar and hotel keepers, he died in 1915. He owned a building a little further to the west, 265 E Pender, in 1914. The 1972 image shows that it had started life as a house, with a shop front added when Dupont Street (as it was then) changed from a residential to a commercial street. There was also a house on 269 E Pender, the lot with a single storey retail unit in 1972. Chinese merchant ‘Sam Kee’ (the name of the company run by Chang Toy) owned 275 E Pender in 1924.

Beyond those stores are two more narrow buildings redeveloped in the 1970s. We looked at them in an earlier post – they were developed in the period where new structures were adding ‘Chinese’ design elements like green glazed tiles.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 780-448


Posted 10 May 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, East End

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Robson and Howe, looking west

We’ve had to wait to post this view of the 800 block of Robson for the completion of the new plaza, replacing a temporary closure that was tested over the past couple of years. Now paved with stone to match the Art Gallery plaza to the north, (although without the busy pattern), it’s reopened just in time for the summer.

The ‘before’ shot is dated to somewhere between 1980 and 1997, but we can pin that down better. The frame of the building under construction is 800 Burrard, designed by Eng and Wright Partners and completed in 1983. That would suggest this was taken around 1981.

In front of the office tower is Mayfair House, from 1980, and the two mid-rise buildings to to south are the Wedgewood Hotel from 1964, designed by Peter Kaffka, and Chancery Place, completed in 1984. On the right is 777 Hornby, designed by Frank Roy and completed in 1969. We’ve seen it in an earlier post looking north on Hornby, on the far side of the plaza. He’s a relatively obscure architect, and we assume based in a different province, as Thompson Berwick Pratt and Partners were supervising architects. He got his architectural training at the University of Manitoba, and his degree in 1950. The Archives have a 1967 brochure for the building, which is the only way we know the designer.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-929


Posted 6 May 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown