Saturday 16 August 2008

First Place

The 100 block of west Hastings St. wins first place for the most desolate block in Vancouver. In fairness, on the side of the street I'm shooting from there is an enormous development under construction. When completed in a year or so the site will have condos, non-market housing and a satellite university campus. Of course, the official line is that the new development will drag the blighted neighbourhood along with it. I suppose this is inevitable but I have severe doubts about how long it will take. The future of the hundreds of addicted, homeless and mentally ill living in the DTES (Downtown Eastside) is uncertain. The problem is monumental.

This block, up until the early '90s, was one of the most vibrant in the city. Woodward's flagship department store was where every working family in Vancouver shopped, for everything. The basement was a ginormous Food Floor and restaurant and on the six floors above was everything from soup to nuts. There was also a Woolworth's on this block. Woodward's folded in 1993. For thousands of Vancouverites it was like losing a friend.

One of my first jobs was in the main store. When I worked there in 1970 or so the six elevators still had women operators wearing matching suits and white gloves.

Tomorrow, something lighter.


Laurie Allee said...

Wow, Wayne. I thought it was a distinctly American problem when Mainstreet folded in favor of the Corporate big box stores on the outskirts of town but it sounds like something similar happened when your local department store closed. Is it okay if I just blanketly blame it on globlization?

It's a very picturesque street. Maybe it really will rebound.

Copenhagen said...

Thank you very much, Wayne. I've been to Vancouver twice and I absolutely love the landscape. The ocean and the mountains took my breath away.

I'm glad that you like Montreal and welcome back. I'll try my best to post daily and give detailed information about my photos.

Take care.

Wayne said...

A bit of clarification may be helpful. I could post pics of blocks just to the east that are pretty scary but there are people everywhere. This block is mostly boarded up buildings.
Ten blocks west the corner of Georgia and Granville is and has been the hub of downtown for eons. That area is bustling, as is Robson St. one block south of Georgia St.
In Vancouver, the biggest department stores are still downtown. But I'm sure they are nowhere near as busy as the mall locations.
Big box stores will have had an impact and there are Walmarts in neighbouring municipalities. But Vancouver, to date, has refused Walmart permission to build in Vancouver. That could change.