January 10, 2019

A Spring Day, 1964 in Vancouver~A Tale of Two Neighbourhoods


Sitting at Beach and Davie Streets in the Spring of 1964.

Forwarded from Tom Durning, this remarkable image shows a different sea and cityscape from half a century ago.  From the trees, plants, the hats and coats we can assume this is a spring day. But look at the composition of the photo,  with the men in the foreground and the women with the swing coats in the far distance. There is a sparseness and an emptiness in the image, and a sense that everything is in its place.

Contrast this with the oldie but goodie YouTube video below, also from 1964 .

Here’s that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and City of Vancouver joint production on ascertaining what neighbourhood areas had “blight” and needed to be~well, erased.  By reviewing the quality of housing from the exterior and from some internal inspections, Chinatown, Strathcona and parts of False Creek were earmarked for “renewal”.

It’s interesting to look at the intricate mixed use in the Strathcona area, which in those more Euclidian zoning times was called “confused”. Of course this area also had some of the oldest housing in Vancouver which made it ripe for redevelopment according to the criteria used for the “renewal survey”. Take a look at this cringe worthy video.


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  1. Of course such a view conveniently ignores that Strathcona and Chinatown would likely be much denser than they are today had that urban renewal gone ahead. Not as quaintly charming, in a gentrified way, though.

  2. Wow. I saw this in a showing of ‘local historical film’ at Strathcona Community Centre years ago, and remember clearly the part where blocks of old houses disappear – bloop! – to be replaced by new apartment developments, all with the implication that this is a favour to existing residents, not a sales pitch for new ones. I remember at the same showing, someone spoke about the years of deliberate neglect Strathcona went through – little street repair, little lighting, poor policing etc – in order to drive down land values and make plans like the one shown less expensive.
    Not like the sites that they built on Union and off Raymur were so particularly bad – it’s just that they weren’t so much ‘planned and offered’ as they were ‘plotted and foisted’.
    I heard a rumour that this footage was found on reels in a dumpster downtown, then digitized and shared by the finders. Any idea if that’s truu?

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