Saturday, March 31, 2012

Cordova at Cambie Looking East - 1902/2012

This is actually a re-shoot as the last time I did this particular then and now in 2007 Woodwards was still being built. And I posted the now photo on top. So here it is again, this time with the construction all finished. Notice how Cordova has been re-aligned since the old photo was taken.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Houses of Chinatown's Past

This post, my first in a while, is dedicated to a few houses that no longer exist in Chinatown. In all of these cases, all signs of any single-detached housing is long gone, replaced by retail. While sad to see these houses no longer, the current buildings are more in tune with what you'd typically find in Chinatown today, so it comes as no surprise they're no longer with us.

262 East Georgia street 1960s-2009:

250 East Georgia street 1960s-2009:

600 Block of Gore avenue 1969-2009:

100 block of Keefer street 1960s-2010:

And finally, these houses give us a glimpse of how the area has gone from residential to retail over the course of nearly a century as well as a glimpse of some crazy power lines.

East Pender west of Main street 1914-2010:

Saturday, March 5, 2011

152 West Hastings Street: 1927 - 2007

This building, about mid-block has been modified quite a bit from the old photo, but it's still there. The top portion is used as artist studios. As this block and surrounding neighbourhood get cleaned up, this building may follow suit. Or it may be demolished. In the foreground on the street you can see where the old street car tracks used to be.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Granville Street Neon

Granville Street in downtown Vancouver is home to a vast array of neon signs, some old, many new. Even though the strip has the highest concentration of neon and neon signs in the city, it pales in comparison to what once was. During the 1940s and 50s, Granville Street was known as "The Great White Way" and was said to have had the most neon signage in the world next to Shanghai. This may or may not be true but once the 1960s rolled around, cleaning up Vancouver's inner city 'blight' was a high priority for the powers that be in the city. And neon was to blame for deteriorating conditions on streets like Granville so many signs were removed and no new neon was allowed. Of course, existing neon was able to stay but as the old signs broke down or shops and theatres closed, the neon began to disappear. But now, the city is encouraging businesses to erect neon signs or fix up existing signage as a way to 'liven' up Granville Street, which is seeing a renaissance if you will, and the seediness of porn stores and pawn shops are making way to high end night clubs and chain stores.
This post will show you a little of what Granville Street used to look and to compare it to some of the signs that are there now. My resources were rather limited as the Vancouver Archives and Public Library have few colour photos from back then of the strip, but check out Frank Herzog's wonderful photos of some of the signs.

First, let's start with a comparison of Granville Street from 1959 to now:

A few pictures of the neon in its heyday:



1951, in the rain

and 1958

One of my favourite signs is the Orpheum sign. But it used to look quite different. Here it is from 1946:

And now:

The Vogue sign has recently been fixed up:

Here's the old Plaza Theatre sign:

And nowadays, as Venue:

And some more random signs from the old days of Granville Street, but in the daytime:

Check out my Vancouver Neon set on Flickr for more signs that are around today:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The 400 Block of West Hastings, South Side

First off, I just want to state that the purpose of this blog is not to research histories of the old buildings in the photos, but rather piece together what is left and add in some additional old photos of buildings, and as many then and now comparisons of the buildings I have done. While researching additional photos to use, I've come across many that will make splendid candidates for future then and now photos, so please, always check my flickr site for newer additions. It's an ongoing project for me and I always come across old photos that are new to me.

This is one of my favourite blocks in the east part of downtown Vancouver. It features an intact streetscape of buildings with the newest building built in 1936 and the oldest dating back to 1889. Most have had only minor renovations done over the years, which is pretty admirable.

Okay, let's just jump right into the action. I have done three comparisons of this block, two from the 1900s and the third from the 1970s:

This was originally taken looking west up West Hastings Street from Homer Street, sometime in the 1900s, probably close to 1910 when Vancouver was booming, hence the banner:
(CVA 677-616, Phillip Timms)
This was taken around the same time as the photo above. Note the horse drawn carts and the very old school policeman in the photo, as well as a streetcar:
(CVA 677-621, Phillip Timms)

This was taken in 1974 and as you can see, most of the buildings are still there and feature many of their original detailing:
(CVA 780-22, Public Records Photo)

Now, let's get into some details about each building. Here's a handy reference picture which will make it easier to follow along:

Royal Bank of Canada, 400 West Hastings Street.

This building was built in 1903 and served as Vancouver's Royal Bank headquarters from 1903 to 1931, and remained a local branch until 1981. It currently houses the Vancouver Film School (VFS).

This is what the building looked like in 1903, probably shortly after it was completed.
(VA Bu P78)

The view from the alley shows most of the rear windows have been filled in.

Some of the detailing on the front of the building.

Building #2: Second Rogers Block, 412 West Hastings Street.

This building was built in 1898 and has been recently restored and is looking great.

Building #3: Bank of Nova Scotia, 426 West Hastings Street.

Also built in 1903.

Here it is shortly after it was built. You can see how the top part has changed since it was built.
(VPL 5197, Phillip Timms)

Buildings #4 &5: Canadian Pacific Telegraph Building (left), 432 and 440 West Hastings Street.

The building on the left was built in 1900 and the newer building on the right is from 1936, which I found surprising! These buildings were actually consolidated as one, when the building on the right was built.

Here is evidence to that fact, from the alley. The brick building is the 1936 building but was built to wrap around the old building. The age of the addition and infill building is revealed a little better with those great old windows.

On the right is the building that was there previous and was the last building on the block to be demolished.
The Bank of Nova Scotia, as it looks today, is on the left and telegraph building is in middle. This photo is from 1918.
(VPL 20441A Dominion Photo Co)

Building #6: 450 West Hastings Street.

Built 1901 and currently houses Sophia Books.

Building #7: Bank of British Columbia, 422 Richards Street.

This fabulous old-timer was built in 1889 and was one of the first commercial buildings to be built outside of Gastown. Sadly, some of its ornamentation is gone but perhaps one day it will be restored. A few photos down reveals what the building used to look like.

Building #9: Standard Building, 510 West Hastings Street.

This large heritage building was built in 1914 and is one of my favourite buildings in the city. It's such an impressive old building. It sits on the next block over from the 400 block but I thought I would include it as it's part of the then and now views at the top.

This photo is from 1921 and you can see the Bank of BC building on the left.
(VPL 10740 Leonard Frank)

A few additional historic photos:

This is West Hastings Street in 1936 during a Jubilee parade. You can see the 400 block on the left side.
(VPL 19347 Phillip Timms)

And here's a view down the street from 1938 with the Standard Building in the background.
(VPL 5853 Leonard Frank)

Saturday, January 30, 2010


The purpose of this blog is to show the changing face of Vancouver, through the years and how it relates to what is there now, in terms of buildings, architecture styles, people and transportation. This is a supplement to my Then & Now series of photos I have posted on my flickr site and I hope to delve deeper into details about the buildings you see in the old and new photos. I also want to have site devoted to only Then and Now photographs of mine.

The idea of Then and Now photo comparisons, or re-photography, is nothing new and I don't claim to have started it by any stretch of the imagination. I first was introduced to this from a book called Calgary: Then & Now by Vicky Williams that came out in the early 1980s. I read that thing to death and always thought it would be interesting, as the years went by, to take the 'now' photos over again seeing as them themselves are dated. I think most major Canadian cities have a version of this book.

I also don't want to moan and complain about what has been lost in Vancouver in terms of buildings. What's done is done. But I think it is fascinating to look at an area and or street and see what once was. Maybe we can learn from some past mistakes but Vancouver would not be the city is today if nothing was built since a certain year. Obviously some buildings may have not deserved or needed to be torn down but my purpose is to educate myself and others about the city they see around them and what once was.

I plan to post then and now comparisons of Vancouver that I have already posted on my flickr page but I hope to revisit the sites and take pictures of individual buildings and streets/alleys for a little more context and detail, and maybe use some other old photos as well. This blog is a work in progress and I'm not really sure how it will end up but I wanted to do something a little more than just what I have posted on flickr.

Thanks for visiting!