History & Heritage
February 4, 2021

Urbanism: For your viewing and listening pleasure

PT contributors have a couple of recommendations for you – their favourite podcasts and videos on cities and urbanism (and some offbeat miscellany).

Michael Gordon is a fan of Berkeley PhD student Dave Amos, who produces and narrates City Beautiful:

An American focus, of course, but with some more universal topics:

Carmen Mills is a big fan of 99% Invisible – a podcast from the sonorous Roman Mars.  “It’s all about the built environment, in so many clever ways…and the sound design is impeccable.”

“For example, here’s one favorite…but they’re all good:”

Read more »

Sixty years ago a Vancouver tourism film was released that catered to couples, and recommended the Vancouver area for people who were coming for honeymoons. This film has survived, and has been reposted on YouTube with its original title which (not too surprising) is called “Vancouver Honeymoon”.

There is a lot of insights in the film, some cringeworthy, others nostalgic. The film shows a residential area that looks fairly typical of new 1950’s subdivisions with small trees and shrubs~can you identify where that is?

In Stanley Park kids are attending “traffic school” where you get to drive around pretend “streets’ in a little car, with a real live police officer helping you learn how to “drive”. No surprise the training seems to be only from a driver’s perspective, with no pedestrians or cyclists.

Summers at the beach look very Santa Monica, with low tide, lots of kids and activities, and the commentator does hint that Vancouver has good temperatures all year round. You can apparently hook an eighty pound salmon without trying, and if you are the wife, it is “beginner’s luck”.  There is a scene at a take out White Spot with the waiter bringing out a specially designed tray to hook to the car window.

Read more »

Yesterday, Michael Alexander told the story of New York City’s fabulous (and fabulously expensive) new Moynihan Train Hall, and the less happy history of Penn Station, which it serves. Today: what are their lessons for Vancouver? And what are Vancouver’s public transit opportunities (and the region’s) for the coming decades? 

Like the glorious original Beaux-Arts Penn Station, historic Waterfront Station is privately owned by a large developer. And as in New York, that private developer wants to maximize its profits. In New York, the result was to bury most of Penn Station in the basement of Madison Square Garden. Here, developer Cadillac Fairview plans a private, ultramodern 26-storey office tower on a wedge of parking lot next to the station. It was quickly nicknamed The Ice Pick.

Nearly 13 million riders pass through Waterfront Station each year, about five million more than users of the next busiest Translink station. As the pandemic wanes, ridership will increase. The historic 1914 building is protected by heritage regulations, and serves as a stunning public entry and meeting hall.

The actual transit facilities are underground, or in a shabby shed attached to the building’s north side, a construction mirroring the tawdry underground Penn Station that New Yorkers and visitors have suffered since 1968.

Connections are so poorly designed that to transfer between Skytrain lines, you go up two flights, through fare gates, down two flights, and through another set of fare gates.

Translink rents this space and office space in the upper floors from the developer, Cadillac Fairview.

That’s not the way it has to be, or the way the city has said it wants it. Since 2009, the city has had preliminary plans which include a great, glassy public hall, a transit and visitor entry to Vancouver, with views of water and mountains, transportation and history, urban commerce and pleasurable public space. Something like this:

Read more »

There’s a Vancouver real estate marketing YouTube video making the rounds of social media that describes a “different way of life” that is “elegantly removed from the hectic pace of downtown”.

You can watch the video below with that calm hushed voice describing the Arbutus Greenway as “one of the longest linear parks in the world” (no mention that it is a rail-right-of-way) and compares it with New York City’s Highline, Barcelona’s Las Ramblas, Avenue Montaigne in Paris and Mayfair and Chelsea in London. The whole point is that you  can live in a “stately greenside manor” “poised in the most distinguished part of the Arbutus greenway”.

This is really selling  the redevelopment of the Kerrisdale Lumber and hardware store in the 6100 block of West Boulevard by Gryphon Developments. This is a five storey mixed use building with 64 units with size ranges from around 800 to 1,300 square feet. There are one to three bedroom units as well as 19,000 square feet of retail for shops and services. The architect is Taizo Yamamoto and you can take a look at the submission to the Urban Design Panel here.

You can also take a look at the heritage designation of the eastern side of the facade here.

The elevations for the building appear relatively unremarkable and similar to other  types of residential development in the city.  There is the retention of the 1930’s facade north of the much loved hardware store.

Read more »

 

There is a large flashy ad on twitter. A new development is being announced in Metro Vancouver. It  is at the crossroads of three different rapid transit routes,  a new transportation hub to everywhere in the region and there are only 176 lots available to savvy investors. There’s a great pre-sale, there are real estate agents available at the development site to sign you up, and even better one of the purchasers of the limited number of lots will also win the lot that has an original farmhouse that had been built twenty years earlier.

This is not a current offer for sale, but one from 110 years ago when “Montrelynview, Greater Vancouver’s Tram Car Centre” was created for property sales. In 1911 the large advertisements started to appear in The Vancouver World newspaper~”Montrelynview! Greater Vancouver’s Tram Car Centre Sale Starts with 176 lots only!”


Charles Gordon, a real estate speculator had acquired Wintermute farm which is at 7640 Berkley Street  in Burnaby near Canada Way and Imperial. He then devised a plan to whip up public interest in selling the subdivided lots from the farm property and created a clever marketing campaign.

Mr. Gordon hosted a competition to name his new development and offered a first prize of $50.00 which is worth about $2,800 today for the winning name.  He wanted a moniker that would reference the mountain view, the fact you could see Burnaby Lake from the location, and that also noted the proximity to the three streetcar lines.

There were over 5,000 potential names submitted in the contest, but none satisfied Mr. Gordon. Awkwardly, he devised  his own brand for the development, calling it  “Montrelynview”which he felt recognized the mountain view, the lake view, and the proximity to transit. The prize of $50.00 went to the person that suggested “Tricarlocheights” which meant “mountains and omit(s) view”.

Read more »