Part of the Vancouver Then and Now Series

Downtown Vancouver

December 22, 2014

Christ Church Cathedral on Burrard and Georgia. Completed in 1895, the church is a lonely survivor from the city's early days, besieged by an ocean of modernity.

From virgin forests to high-rises

For perhaps the last 10,000 years First Nations people have been living in and around the area of modern Vancouver, establishing large villages along the Burrard Inlet and at the mouth of the Fraser River. British and Spanish explorers arrived at the end of the 18th Century and immediately saw the great potential of Vancouver's natural harbour: In 1859 Robert Burnaby said of the place "I prophesy [it] will become one of the greatest naval rendezvous and centres of commerce on this side of the world."

The Vancouver skyline seen from North Vancouver.

Men with ploughs clear land for construction of the Courthouse, today's Art Gallery. You can barely make out the slope of the roof of Christ Church Cathedral in the background of the now picture.

And a few years after it was completed.

This Methodist Church was once adjacent to Christ Church Cathedral, on the southwest corner of Burrard and Georgia. You can also see it in the background of the first picture.

Granville Street at night.

Mounted officers lead a funeral procession down Georgia Street. Presumably these men have just returned from the trenches in France.

Crossing the street at Georgia and Burrard.

The Catholic Holy Rosary Cathedral on Dunsmuir and Richards just after its completion in 1899. The cathedral was built in the same style as Chartres Cathedral in France.

Traffic on Pender and Richards.

The original Hudson's Bay Company building on Granville and Georgia. A little less busy then.

Another military parade going down Georgia Street, this time to celebrate Vancouver's Diamond Jubilee - 60th Birthday. The troops are American, possibly from the 2nd Infantry Division. They are riding in M8 Greyhound armoured cars. Here's some fantastic colour footage of the parade. You can see a few trucks with Vancouver veterans of the Boer War in South Africa.

Workers replace streetcar tracks on Granville Street. The last streetcar lines in Vancouver were dismantled in 1958.

Another shot of the workers looking north from Nelson Street. Now our rails run underground!

It doesn't look like particularly easy work.

Looking north down Granville. The first neon signs are just starting to pop up.

Now looking down towards the water from Georgia. The Hudson's Bay Company building is on the right. They drove on the left back then.

The northwest corner of Granville and Georgia.

A photo of some houses that are facing onto Georgia Street, taken from the back. What a view!

The intersection of Cordova, Richards and Water four weeks after the Great Fire of Vancouver in 1886. Clearly, they've wasted no time in rebuilding. The fire was actually started intentionally by someone clearing brush between Main and Cambie Streets, but strong winds fanned the flames out of control and in the space of 25 minutes the conflagration consumed virtually every single building in the small town. Vancouver rebounded spectacularly however, with new buildings going up within four days of the fire.

Vancouver Then and Now Series



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