Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

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

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Posted 6 May 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

Downtown South and Yaletown from above

The image today wasn’t taken at quite the right altitude, so we’ve lined up the buildings along Burrard Inlet and haven’t tried to stretch (and so distort) the image to get the lower part of the picture perfectly aligned. In every other aspect, it’s a great match between 1982 and May 2020.

This is the part of Downtown Vancouver that has seen the greatest change. While Granville Street has been zoned (up to now) to restrict building heights, to allow the sidewalks to stay naturally lit and brighter, almost everything to the east in Downtown South has been allowed to go higher – although there are viewcones that cross the area restricting the height (and therefore density) of some buildings. There are also guidelines to limit shadowing of parks – which now exist, although from this distance they’re hidden by a sea of mostly residential towers. Yaletown – the original three street warehouse district of 1900s buildings also has height limits, and can be seen on the right.

Apparently on the waterfront, although actually a couple of blocks back, on West Hastings, the Lookout and revolving restaurant on the Harbour Centre stood out in 1982. It’s currently getting three close neighbours, with new office towers being developed a block to the west, and another controversially contemporary designed tower may be developed beyond it, much closer to Burrard Inlet. In the Central Business District we’ve reached the point where older offices up to 15 storeys high, and completed as recently as 1982, are now being replaced with new office towers at least twice as tall, with much higher standards of energy efficiency.

Image source: Trish Jewison in the Global BC helicopter, on her twitter account 5 May 2020.

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Posted 15 February 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

West Pender Street – 1100 block, south side

We saw the buildings on the north side of the block in earlier posts. Here are three buildings on the south side of the street in 1981. Two have been redeveloped since then, and the third has been approved for redevelopment.

On the corner was 1196 W Pender, a 1952 building. We haven’t been able to identify the architect of the modest building. To the east was an unusual 3-storey building, that dated back to 1955. The fully glazed office building was designed by McKee and Gray for James Lovick. Robert McKee was a Vancouver-born architect whose mid-century designs are now gaining wider recognition, and Percy Gray was an architect and engineer who co-operated with him in the design of a number of 1950s buildings.

Jimmy Lovick, their client, had been active in local advertising since 1934, and in 1948 set up his own practice. He opened James Lovick & Co. offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. A decade later Lovick & Co. was the largest agency in Canada, with additional offices in Edmonton, London, Ont., Halifax, New York and San Francisco. Rival companies stole some of Lovick’s business, and when he passed away in 1968 (having flown a million miles with Trans-Canada Airlines) the company was less prominent. It merged into New York advertising giant BBDO some years later. The two buildings were demolished in the early 2000s, replaced in 2008 by a 31 storey residential tower called Sapphire, designed by Hancock, Bruckner, Eng + Wright, with a childcare facility on the upper floors of the podium.

Next door is (for now) a 15 storey office tower designed by Charles Paine and Associates for Dawson Developments, and completed in 1974. Long the home of the Canada Reveue Agency, they recently moved to less central locations, and the building was acquired by developer Reliance Holdings for $71.4m in 2016. They have obtained permission for a replacement 31 storey office tower designed by IBI Group in Vancouver and Hariri Pontarini of Toronto.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 779-W14.34

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Posted 11 February 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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Lost Gas Stations in Downtown Vancouver

We’ve seen a lot of Downtown and west End locations where there used to be gas stations – we think there were at least 99 of them in the past where they’ve now disappeared. Today there’s just one left – for now. On the corner of Davie and Burrard, the last remaining Esso station has been bought by a property developer. A block away there was a Shell station, developed in 1951, and seen in this image from the same year in the Vancouver Public Library photo collection. The garage structure is still there, with additional elements added as restaurants. The gas station had closed by the early 1980s, and became a Mr. Submarine store for a while.

Further south, at Seymour and Pacific, Imperial Oil had a gas station, seen here when it first opened in 1925. Townley and Matheson designed the structure, which was built by Purdy & Rodger at a cost of $6,900. The gas bar was replaced with part of the Seymour off-ramp of the Granville Bridge, completed in 1954. If the number of service stations seems low today, that wasn’t the case in the 1920s. This was 601 Pacific, and Imperial Oil had another Townley and Matheson designed gas bar at 740 Pacific, and Union Oil had another on the same block. By 1930 this gas station no longer existed.

In the background is the Bayview Hotel, later renamed The Continental, and in its later years operated by the City of Vancouver as an SRO hotel until it was demolished in 2015. In its early years the hotel was an expensive investment for Kilroy and Morgan, who spent $100,000 to build the hotel designed by Parr and Fee in 1911.

Finally (for the time being), there was a larger gas station on Robson Street, operated here in 1974 by Texaco. In 1985 it was redeveloped with a 2-storey retail building that includes a London Drugs store, and smaller retail units on Bute Street. Initially there were houses built here, but the motoring use of the site was over decades – in the 1930s Webber-MacDonald Garage was here, repairing and selling pre-owned automobiles, which became the Robson Garage a few years later. The corner however had a different building; the Bute Street Private hospital was here for decades. It became a rooming house, but was still here when Hemrich Brothers (who ran a garage on Howe, and then Dunsmuir Street for many years) were running the Robson Street garage in the later 1950s. The big new Texaco canopy, facilities  and forecourt replaced the buildings on the street until the 1980s redevelopment put buildings back along Robson.

Image sources: VPL, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 1399-530 and CVA 778-333

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Posted 8 February 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown, Gone, West End

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876 Granville Street

This is yet another of the Parr and Fee designed hotels at the southern end of Granville Street in Downtown; last known as the State Hotel. It was developed as an investment property by Evan, Coleman and Evans, who hired G E Williamson to build it for $46,000 in 1910. The developers built at least three other hotels in Gastown, owned a wharf and warehouses, a cement plant and a building supply business. They were two English brothers Percy and Ernest Evans, and their cousin, George Coleman. They arrived in Vancouver in 1888, and built up a business empire that they sold in 1910 to a group of prominent local business people including William Farrell and Frank Barnard, although they may have retained their interest in the hotels, which also included another hotel probably designed by Parr and Fee for them a year earlier, the Manitoba, on Cordova.

Initially this opened as the Norfolk Rooms, with two retail stores; 872 to the north and 878 to the south. The entrance to the Rooms was a narrow doorway in the middle of the block, numbered as 874 Granville. When the building opened, the London Cash Store occupied 872. This was a dry goods emporium; “Mr. West, the proprietor, fresh from his lengthy experience In some of the best known firms in the west end of London, makes it the study of his life to satisfy as well as please his growing connection; and It is not unreasonable to suppose that he will soon have one of the largest and best known stores of its kind In Vancouver.” Two years later Thomas West was no longer in Vancouver, and his store had been replaced by Edwin Galloway selling new and used books. 878 was home to McLachlan Bros, a hardware business run by Dougall J McLachlan. In the early 1920s Rennie’s Seeds store was to the north, and Bogardus Wickens occupied 878, selling glass, and paint. By 1925, 872 was home to the Commodore Cafe, (referencing the Commodore Ballroom next door) and 878 was home to the Cut Rate Radio Shop. two years later they had been replaced by the Womans Bakery, and by 1930 Edwards Jewelry Store.

The Commodore Cafe became the Blue Goose Cafe, in 1933, and in 1935 the business expanded to take over both units, and access to the Norfolk Hotel was moved to the southern end of the building and renumbered as 876. The fabulous art deco canopy and facade belonged to the Blue Goose, and W Wolfenden who ran that business probably installed the modern new look. In 1936 The Hollywood Cafe replaced the Blue Goose, as our Stuart Thomson photo shows. Harry Stamatis took over when it became the Hollywood (and also managed Scott’s Cafe a block to the north). The Blue Goose had a large dining room, as the 1935 interior shot (left) shows, and the new manager reduced the number of tables, but otherwise it stayed the same. Located between the Commodore and the Orpheum Theatre the restaurant only stayed in business for a year. The star of the show was the counter on the northern side of the building, seen on the right in 1936.

From 1937 the premises appear to have been split into two again. 874 Granville, the southern half, became the home of the Bon Ton Tea Rooms, which stayed here until the 1980s. The northern part, 872 had a series of restaurants. In 1937 it was the Commodore Grill, run by Nick Kogos (another Greek restauranteur), a couple of years later it had become Chris’s Grill & Restaurant, run by Chris Stamatis (Harry’s brother), and by 1949 the Good Eats Cafe run by Milton J Litras, who was almost certainly also from a Greek family. A year later three more Greek owners, (N Michas, N Girgulis and J Dlllias) were running the Olympic Cafe. By 1955 it had become The Neptune Grill run by John Michas (with an option of a consultation with the on-site palmist and tea-leaf reader).

Today the Cafe Crepe (with a retro 7 metre high neon sign) has just closed after 17 years in this location. The other retail unit has the most lineups of any Vancouver store; it’s one of only three Canadian locations of an Italian-based fast fashion business, Brandy Melville, who replaced an American Apparel store. The facade was restored in 2003, but the upper floors have apparently been unused following a fire in the early 1970s.

A development proposal is being considered to develop a large retail, entertainment and office building here, which would retain just the facade of the State Hotel.

Image sources, City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4884, CVA 99-4768 and CVA-99-4883.

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Posted 1 February 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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1180 Granville Street

This is another Parr and Fee designed hotel on Granville Street, seen here in 1934 with the Peter Pan Cafe operating downstairs. The Hotel was the Hotel Martinique, developed by Charles Fee in 1912 and built by J J Dissette at a cost of $100,000.  Charles Fee was unmarried and lived with his brother, Thomas, the architect of the building. He owned the building until his death, in 1927, when his estate (administered by his brother), sold it. An April edition of the Vancouver Sun described the circumstances of his death. “Succumbing apparently to a heart attack, Charles Fee, proprietor of the Martinique Hotel, was found dead in his room at the hotel shortly after 10 o’clock this morning. When discovered by hotel officials whose suspicions had become aroused over the non-appearance of the proprietor, Mr. Fee was found lying on the floor fully dressed. The body was removed to the city morgue upon Instructions of Coroner W. I. Brydone-Jack. It Is not expected that an Inquest will be held.” An autopsy was carried out, revealing that Mr. Fee had died as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. The brothers were from Quebec, and Charles arrived in BC later than Thomas, who had already designed many of the city’s buildings, and assembled his own portfolio of investment property.

When the hotel was first operating the retail unit alongside the hotel entrance stayed vacant for a while, and seemed to change quite often. For example, in 1919 C Timberlake’s second hand store was here, in 1925 McLachlan & Fraser’s hardware store, and in 1930 W T McArthur selling stoves and ranges. That year the Peter Pan Cafe was already in operation on this block, but a little further to the west. The cafe moved here in 1934, when this image was taken.

Peter Pantages was the nephew of ‘Alexander’ Pantages who ran the successful theatre circuit from Seattle that included two Vancouver theatres. Alexander (who was christened Pericles), brought several nephews to Vancouver from his native Greece. Peter arrived around 1919 and initially worked as an usher in his uncle’s theatre. A keen sea swimmer, in 1920 he persuaded four friends to swim with him in English Bay on New Year’s Day – the start of the Polar Bear Swim Club that continues today, now with over 2,000 participants. By 1929 he was running the Peter Pan Café on Granville with his three brothers Lloyd, Angelo and Alphonsos. He was still involved in 1971, when he died on vacation in Hawaii. Today the lane between Davie and Burnaby Street in the West End is named in his memory.

Until earlier in 2020 it was still a hotel – most recently a Howard Johnson – but the building was bought by the BC Housing agency in mid 2020 to operate as a non-market housing property, initially to provide urgent relief to reduce street homeless numbers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Longer term it’s expected to be redeveloped with the adjacent site that was bought at the same time. Until the Covid pandemic a branch of Wings restaurant operated here.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-4420

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Posted 28 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

1259 Granville Street

This is the Vancouver Motor Supply Co seen 101 years ago in this 1919 Stuart Thomson picture. It was underneath a building which featured white glazed bricks and centre-pivoted windows, a trademark of Parr and Fee, who designed at least seven hotels in a few blocks of Granville Street all built to a similar design over two or three years. This one was built by Peter Tardiff, (sometimes Tardif), in 1911 at a cost of $60,000 was developed by W A Clark. He was a real estate broker from Ontario, and was one of two William Clark’s involved in real estate in the city, which must have been confusing at times. In 1911 he lived with his wife, May, their five daughters, and a servant, Tanda Ishira, who was from Japan. When it first opened this was the Newport Rooms, then the Newport Hotel, a name it retained for many years.

The retail space saw constant change many years, some of which we’ve researched. When the picture was taken in 1919 Vancouver Motor Supply Co the business had just been taken over by H J Arthur. The Daily World said he was “formerly of the Arthur and Hand Tire company. Mr. Arthur has a host of friends among the motorists of Vancouver, and his new enterprise should prove most valuable to all. He Is getting settled gradually and arranging the new stock, and announces that he is in a position to render the service that should be given to the public by a real up – to – date accessory house. A line of tires will be contracted for in the near future, making equipment for the motorists most complete. With one of the best years that the local trade has ever known In prospect, it is certain that Mr. Arthur will meet with the best of success in his new enterprise.” The business obviously didn’t take off. Herbert J Arthur became a wood dealer, and in 1921 was a salesman, living at Boundary Bay. In 1920 the store was vacant, and in 1921 it was the home of the IXL Cafe, run by John W Smithson and Chas Glazie. The store was split in two a year later, with Nick Kokinas selling confectionery next to the Bailey Cafe. By 1925 it had returned to motordom duty as the Consumers Tire Supply Co, run by E James and R J Beck, and by 1930 a more familiar name, the Vancouver home of Maytag. In 1940 Wosk’s sold stoves here, and in 1950 G W Ross, an Auctioneer had his sale room here. Five years later Mrs. R Macdonald had a used book store, and there was a furniture store in the other half of the building.

More recently it became the Granville Hotel, although it operated as a single-room occupancy rental property, with shared bathrooms. Acquired by the City Of Vancouver in 2003 for $2.8m, it’s still run as an SRO Hotel, the Granville Residence. The city spent over $4m to repair the building, including rebuilding the façade which was in a pretty poor state in the early 2000s. The room count reduced from 100 to 83, and each room is now self-contained with bathrooms, a small cooking area and average 160 sq. ft. in area. It leases to as low-rent housing for people age 45 and over, and for people age 35 and over with disabilities who may be working or on income assistance.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-701

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Posted 25 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

636 Davie Street

Here’s yet another example of how motoring-based businesses occupied large areas of Downtown. This 1925 image shows International Motor Trucks factory branch on Davie Street, near Granville. Today it’s a series of small restaurants, but the bones of the garage structure are clearly visible. George Trorey developed the site in 1918 for a different company. The permit describes the $5,100 development as “One-storey brick building, to be occupied by the Davie Vulcanizing Co.” Gardiner and Mercer designed the building, and Wallace & McGougan built it. George Trorey was a wealthy jeweller who had his own company which he had sold to Henry Birks, becoming Birks’ General Manager. We’ve seen several other properties that he owned, but this is the first that we identified him as the developer. George was born in Niagra Falls, and set up his jewellers business in Vancouver in 1897. He ended up owning this site because he bought the Golden Gate Hotel, on the same lot, facing Granville Street, in 1908, and still owned it in the early 1940s.

International Motor Trucks apparently moved into the property in 1924, and spent $400 on alterations. The company, still manufacturing today, started production in the early 1900s, and by 1925 were selling the recently introduced ‘S’ series trucks, manufactured in Akron, Ohio. Part of International Harvester, their Vancouver distributor was Mark Dumond, and he was their agent before they moved to this new location from the 1000 block of Main Street. They didn’t stay here too long; the business had a new manager by 1930, Frank Brewer, and a new location in the 1100 block of Seymour.

We haven’t checked all the changes of activity in this building, but it changed a lot. It was vacant for a while, and then D & D Automotive Service moved in, run by Frank Dean and Chas Draper. By the start of the war, D C MacLure was shown operating a garage here. That was Daniel MacLure who ran MacLure’s Taxi and MacLure’s Sightseeing Tours. They also moved to new premises; in 1947 Drake Welding Co were using the building, and in 1955 Douglas & Crawford sold auto accessories here, alongside the welding business.

Image source City of Vancouver Archives CVA 99-3544

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Posted 21 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Hornby Street looking north

These two pictures were taken in 1986, and there hasn’t been a lot of obvious change in the buildings since then. Even the street trees are the same – with an additional 34 years growth. On the edge of the picture, on the left, is the Mayfair Hotel, developed in 1964 and designed by Peter Kaffka. Next door is a 1980 office building that’s only 6 floors tall, designed by the Blackwell Design Group, and strata titled.

Beyond the tower (and seen on the left of the picture below), the First City Trust Building was completed in 1969, designed by Frank Roy with Thompson, Berwick Pratt and Partners. Now known by its address, 777 Hornby, in the 1990s it received a makeover that included redesigning the podium glazing, and adding rain protection for pedestrians. Before it was built the Richmond Apartments stood on the corner. The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver is to the north. and across the street the Georgia Medical Dental Building is the only change. The art deco building was designed by McCarter and Nairne, and was similar to their Marine Building (if less flamboyant). It was replaced nearly 30 years ago by Cathedral Place, designed by Paul Merrick for Shon Georgia Developments (in a joint venture with Sir Run Run Shaw of Hong Kong). On the street, Hornby street now has a 2-way separated bike lane.

The tower on the right in the upper picture is the North American headquarters of the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank (HSBC). Designed by Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, Housden and Partners, and completed in 1986, it was the headquarters of W A C Bennet’s brainchild; the Bank of British Columbia. Designed to allow more local control for making decisions on loans to BC businesses, it grew to have $2.7bn in funds and over 1,400 employees but serious management problems led to the bank being taken over by the Hong Kong Bank of Canada in the same year it was completed.

Image sources: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 800-2662 and 800-2670

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Posted 11 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Still Standing

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Graphic Arts Building – West Pender Street

This International Style building was developed in 1947. Otto Landauer at the Leonard Frank photo studio took this picture some time soon after an addition and parking garage had been added to the west in 1959, designed, as the original corner block, by John Harvey. The Vancouver Sun’s publishing division were based here, but the offices also had distinctly non-graphic related businesses like the offices of Allis-Chalmers mining equipment, R W Ginn, who was a barrister, and Canadian Laco Lamps – (wholesale). Based in Montreal, they offered Canadian manufactured ‘lamps scientifically and perfectly made to give the greatest service’

The building was demolished in 2004, and four years later ‘The Ritz’, a 34 storey residential tower was completed, designed for Pinnacle International by Hancock Bruckner Eng + Wright. Construction was delayed a little as during construction the spray-crete shoring of the hole for the parking levels collapsed, taking half the street with it. The podium includes a drug store and office space part of a local shopping centre added to the developing Coal Harbour residential area.

Image source: Jewish Museum and Archives LF.00288. (Thanks to Fred Swartz for correcting the photo attribution)

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Posted 4 January 2021 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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