If there’s meme believed about Vancouver, it must be this: A city in constant change, bulldozing its past for the latest glassy tower.  And yet – at least with respect to its historic main street – it has hardly changed at all.

Not the Main Street, of course (originally Westminster Road) but the north-south arterial that ran through the centre of the CPR land grant, from its waterfront station (now, heh,  Waterfront Station) to False Creek.  Our main street has always been Granville Street.

The boys at Changing Vancouver are featuring it in their current post:

Granville Street – 800 block, east side

The image on the left looks like it was taken sometime after the downtown blocks were rebuilt for the mall, but the buildings, as detailed in the text, mainly go back to the 1910s and 20s.   Speaking of the mall, here’s a shot provided by Durning of the street in reconstruction:

And here’s Google’s latest streetview:


Some new buildings, yes, but the proportions and character of the street remain.  Indeed, since the second reconstruction of the mall, it looks more like the street of the 1920s than the 70s.

We notice what’s changing; we ignore what isn’t.  And when it comes to perception, the rate of change is more important than the actual amount of change.




  1. Thanks for the mention! Meanwhile, on our other blog, those buildings you show on the right hand side of the contemporary photograph are already proposed for replacement. Completed in 2006 and 2012, the two and three storey retail buildings are proposed to be replaced with a new building that has retail on four floors (three above grade, and a basement) with a fourth floor of office space. https://changingcitybook.wordpress.com/2019/02/19/950-granville-street/

    Several other Granville Street projects are in the works, including a large new Cineplex entertainment complex with a basement music venue to be built in the old Odeon cinema buildings.

  2. Retail on Granville is changing, US Pizza chain Blaze just opened a store and Vancouver Bar/Restaurant group Colony is opening a large format entertainment hub in the old Tom Lee building.

    1. The Blaze Pizza restaurant is in the old Tom Lee building, along with Ardene clothing – and Deloitte are reported to be moving into the newly renovated office space upstairs, until their new offices on West Georgia are completed. Colony is down the street a bit, in the former Caprice nightclub (buit in 1911 as the Dominion Theatre) . “When it’s complete, patrons can expect the 967 Granville Street space to offer them food, cocktails, and a ton of local craft beer. Colony Entertainment District will boast 15 big screen TVs, a full arcade section, and a custom-made indoor bocce court complete with a weekly league night.”

  3. The ability of this iconic street to hold back the sea changes to which many other downtown streets have been subjected demonstrates the success of development limitations imposed by planners and Council following the unfortunate developments north of Cordova Street (Granville Square Tower in the 200 block) in the 1970s. Thanks as well to a ground swell of public opposition as well to freeways and redevelopment of such iconic locations on the street, height limitations of 20 m along the street (30 m at corner locations) were imposed along the remainder of the street. Redevelopment has thus been slow and more ‘organic’ in extent. The City of Vancouver is still trying to figure out how to reconnect the downtown to the waterfront in the vicinity of Granville Square.

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