Archive for the ‘Downtown’ Category

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

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Posted December 27, 2018 by ChangingCity in Altered, Downtown

West Georgia and Homer Streets looking west

We shot this image about a year ago, and it’s already out of date. The building on the left has already been demolished, soon to be replaced by a new and very unusually shaped office tower. It was 418 West Georgia, and we looked at its history in an earlier post. It was built in 1913, designed by Sharp and Thompson, and was initially a car dealership. From 1917 to early in 1919 it was the Stettler Cigar Factory – described at the time as ‘the largest cigar factory west of the great lakes’. In 1920 it went back to being a car dealership, which continued for many decades. In the 1970s it was, at different times, a restaurant and a gallery (in this 1980s image), before Budget Car Rental took over in the 1990s.

Today there’s a vacant lot to the west, currently parking for car share vehicles, that was also used as a car dealership for many years. Beyond that today is the Telus Garden office tower, recently sold as an investment. It replaced a 1950s parkade, which in turn replaced a 1938 commercial building, which was built where Brandon Autos had a gas station before that – and where the First Congregational Church had originally been built in 1889, designed by William Blackmore.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 772-832

Posted December 24, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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West Cordova and Granville (2)

This view has already changed, and will soon change even more dramatically. In the 1931 Vancouver Public Library image, the newly completed Royal Bank Building towers over the turn of the century single storey retail, located across the street from the Canadian Pacific station. The bank had acquired the site in 1912, paying $725,000 for the site for their new headquarters. It took them until 1929 to demolish the Hadden Building, (built in 1899) and replace it with their art deco skyscraper – or more accurately, half a skyscraper. It was designed by S G Davenport, a Montreal based architect who was the Royal Bank’s staff architect. Although designed to be built as a wedding cake tower, Vancouver still has only just over half a cake as the eastern second phase was never built. There’s a proposal to add a contemporary tower to the east to define the shape, but not the design, of the original tower. This would also allow seismic improvements to the 1920s building.

We looked at the stores in the foreground in two earlier posts, one in 2012, and one a year later. They were built in 1911 and designed for the Allan Brothers (who also built them) by W P White, a Seattle architect who designed a number of Vancouver commissions in the early 1910s. In 1969 they were replaced by a parkade, seen here a little while ago, and now that structure has been demolished to allow construction of a new office tower that has partly been sold as strata office space.

Posted December 20, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone, Still Standing

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Crown Building – West Pender Street

We have looked at the north-west corner of Seymour and Pender twice, seven years ago, and again in 2013. The building on the corner was the Delmonico Hotel, built in 1889 as the Windsor Hotel. It opened in September, described in the news as ‘a new and costly undertaking’. “On Monday next the Windsor Hotel will open for business under the management of Messrs. Brocklesby and Allen, both late of Hotel Vancouver. These gentlemen are thoroughly familiar with the business, and propose to run a first – class house. The table will be second to none in the city and the rooms, well furnished and comfortable, will he kept in the best style. The bar will be well stocked with wines, liquors and cigars, the finest that can be supplied, and no pains will be spared to make the Windsor the favorite resort of the permanent and transient public. Its close proximity to the railway station and the steamers is a great point in its favor, and one tired travellers will highly appreciate.” The partnership lasted all of two months; by November Mr. Brocklesby was in sole charge.

The building had been announced in 1888, and the Daily World identified the developer, the enterprising Dr. Whetham. He commissioned N S Hoffar to design another investment property in 1888, but we haven’t found an architect listed for the Windsor. He was a qualified doctor, but had abandoned medicine for real estate development before he arrived in Vancouver in 1887.

Next door to the west was the Crown building. It was six storeys of white glazed brick, with centre-pivoted windows, which was the signature design of Parr and Fee, who designed a series of almost identical buildings on Granville Street; most are still standing today. The Crown was built in 1907, and the Daily World reported the architects, and the cost of the building ($75,000), as well as the developers, Martin & Robertson. They were importers and suppliers of dried foodstuffs, and we looked at their history in connection with their Water Street warehouse, built a few years earlier than the Crown.

Robert Martin was born in 1851 in Ontario and in 1901 lived in Vancouver with his wife Lydia, who was English, with their four children, and their ‘lady’s help’, Caroline Watson, and Jin, the domestic. Arthur Robertson was a Scotsman who was seven years younger than his business partner, and looking after the company’s other warehouse, in Victoria. They had been in business from the city’s earliest days: in 1894 they were advertising in the Daily World as agents for JOHNSTON’S FLUID BEEF – which was claimed ‘Eclipses All Meat Extracts and Home-made Beef Tea’.

Their investment building was occupied in multiple small suites, with a wide range of professional services. Architect J H Bowman had his practice here in 1911. A year later the Canada Lumberman and Woodworker magazine was published from here, and contractor Walter Hepburn had his offices here in the same year. Robert Martin had a number of other commercial investments in the city, including one a block east of here.

When Ernie Reksten took this picture in 1968 the buildings were about to be demolished, to be replaced with a parkade (with retail units on the main floor). It was completed in 1969, and looks like it should pass it’s 50th birthday, although Downtown parkades are becoming valuable redevelopment opportunities, and it seems unlikely that it will last for many more years.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA 2010-006.010.

Posted December 13, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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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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Dunsmuir and Howe – ne corner (2)

We looked at the Hambro Building that was built here in 1920s. Like much of Downtown, today’s commercial district started life as a residential neighbourhood, and in this 1899 picture the Japanese Consulate was on the corner. Previously the consulate had been at 730 Burrard Street, With Tsugoro Nosse as Consul. (He moved on to run the Consulate in Chicago). From 1898 it was Hon. S Shimizu, and this new location had been the Consulate for a little before the change of consul, probably starting in 1897 A year earlier the Consulate had placed a wanted ad in the Daily world “WANTED – NEW LARGE HOUSE, suitable for office and residence, near Hotel Vancouver or Vancouver Club.” We think the Consul when the image was taken was called Seizaburō Shimizu, who had been Consul in Hawaii, and moved on to be Japanese Consul in Ottawa in the 1920s.

At the time the image was taken, the consul was kept busy writing to the Federal Government, objecting to the discrimination against the Japanese in British Columbia shown in Provincial legislation like the Alien Labour Bill to which assent has been given in 1898. In turn he was consulted by the government over a number of years about the Japanese voluntarily restricting migrants from moving to British Columbia, where hostility to Asiatic employees was building as the economy faltered. He had moved on by 1902, some years before the Japanese response to the anti-Asiatic riot that broke out in 1907, causing significant damage in Japantown (centred on Powell Street). At the time about 8% of the population of the city were Chinese, and several thousand Japanese from a population of around 100,000. The riots served their purpose: Japan agreed to restrict the number of passports issued to make labourers and domestic servants to an annual maximum of 400 under a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ enacted in Canada in early 1908, the year the consulate moved to the newly constructed ‘Imperial Block’ on West Pender.

Once the Japanese had moved, the new occupant of the former consulate was D’Auria Francesco D’Auria ‘vocal teacher’. He was, as his name suggests, an Italian, born in Naples, and a successful composer and orchestral conductor. He had founded the first, shortlived, Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1890, moving on to Winnipeg in 1895, and then Minneapolis before arriving in Vancouver in 1904.

Today the final 1990 phase of the Pacific Centre Mall is here, with an office building designed by the Zeidler Roberts Partnership.

Image source: City of Vancouver Archives CVA Bu N429

Posted November 29, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

898 Seymour Street

Here’s Fred Cheeseman’s shiny new gas and service station on the north east corner of Seymour and Smithe, seen in this 1936 Vancouver Public Library image. Fred had built a new car dealership and service centre on Howe Street a a few years earlier, and the business was actually run by Francis G Cheeseman, Fred’s son. If the dates on these Frank Leonard pictures are correct, they didn’t hang around in the 1930s where construction was concerned. The image above dates from July 1936, and the one on the right from June of the same year. The new premises were known as Cheseman’s Safety Service Garage.

The service station lasted barely 20 years, and the Cheeseman family were no longer associated with it. In the mid 1950s Green and Weston ran the tire and parking part of the business, while D G Dunn operated the gas station.

In 1957 a parking garage replaced this building, joined a year later by another identical structure on Richards Street, linked at the upper level across the lane. In 2009 Vita, a 29 storey residential tower was completed here, joined a year later by its Symphony Tower cousin, at 32 storeys. They both sit above two parkades; one underground for the strata residents, and one above grade forming most of the building’s podium, offering public parking for Downtown visitors and in particular those attending the Orpheum Theatre across Seymour Street (with an entrance also on Granville Street).

Posted November 15, 2018 by ChangingCity in Downtown, Gone

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