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Upside Down House
Favorite thing: We walked down to West Pember Street near Coal Harbour for a good view of the harbour and marina. In the little park overlooking the seawalk there is a large piece of metal artwork "The Upside Down House". Well worth a look and a challenge to your photographic skills to obtain the perfect photo.
This area is a nice part of town with views extending across the harbour to parts of Stanley Park and also to North Vancouver.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
The Marine Building and "The Vancouver Style"
Favorite thing: One of the finest art deco buildings anywhere is The Marine Building, located near the foot of Burrard Street between Hastings and Cordova. Built in 1930, and designed by the local firm McCarter & Nairne, the building must be seen during a regular work day, so that the visitor can see the incredible lobby. Designed like a cathedral, the floor, walls, ceiling and elevator doors are all adorned with images representing the west coast marine theme. Stained glass, mosaics, carved stone and embossed brass are all employed to create an amazing effect.
In a more global, modern sense, the planning of Vancouver's downtown core, in particular it's new residential areas, has been hailed as a wonder of modern urban design. Vancouver's planners and developers have succeeded in creating a highly livable, active, and safe downtown core, which is attracting so many people that planners are now concerned that there will not be enough space left in the core for future commercial office tower development. The primary element of this development is the creation of urban neighbourhoods in "the Vancouver Style", a phrase coined by urban planners in Germany. This style emphasizes narrow, tall "point towers", sitting on a podium of low rise townhouses designed to create a pedestrian-friendly streetscape. These towers are clustered around neighbourhood parks, greenspaces, and abut amenities such as community centres and seawalls. The two most prominent areas to view these new neighbourhoods are the Coal Harbour area, west of Canada Place, and the entire north shore of False Creek, from the Plaza of Nations all the way to the Granville Street Bridge.
Favorite thing: Living close to downtown is an important part of enjoying la vida Vancouver.
"Downtown" is actually a mix of various ressidential and commercial regions that varied and distinct. It's surrounded by beaches, parks and water views that make it one of the prettiest cities in the world... that's according to UN reports and not just me!
Fondest memory: Water view from the 52nd floor of the Sheraton Landmark Hotel.
Lions Gate Bridge
Fondest memory: The Lions Gate Bridge is a huge suspension bridge spanning across Burrard Inlet. The bridge carries Highway 99 from North Vancouver to Vancouver. The south end of the bridge is in Stanley Park. Construction of the bridge began in 1937, and today it can be considered a landmark of Vancouver. I think this bridge can be compared to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco for its amazing and ambitious architecture. Good views of this bridge can be seen from Stanley Park.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Budget Travel
Guided architectural walking tours
Favorite thing: Each summer, the Architectural Institute of BC provides architectural walking tours in a number of locations in Vancouver, including Chinatown, Strathcona, West-end, and Yaletown. The cost is approximately $5 per person for a 2-hour guided tour and well worth the nominal cost. The tour guides are usually architecture students who can offer you a wealth of both architectural and historical information about the places you visit. You can visit the website at www.aibc.ca for more information and tour schedules.
West End Walk (1)
Fondest memory: If you are facing Sylvia Hotel, on the left side is the Eugenia -- a controversial building that was built in 1990. Look! It has a tree on its roof top (the green building in the photo)!
This is a pinned pine tree that will only grow to a fixed height. The architect picked this tree because the combined height of the building plus this tree is the typical height of the douglas firs that once stood in this area. If you can go inside (unfortunately you probably can't, but no problem, I haven't either) the lobby, look at the patterns on the carpet. It is supposed to represent the shoreline of streams that once could be find in the area. Note the shape of the building, some say that it looks like a syringe and wonder if the architect had the city's drug problems in mind!
Now look to the other side of the Sylvia. The big block of apartment called Ocean Towers was built in the 1960s. At the time no thoughts was given to city planning and this building basically blocks all the other buildings behind it. Not only does it obstruct ocean views, but the shadow it casts also poses problems to the greens on the ground.
Stuck between the Ocean Towers and the Sylvia is a building that was designed to demonstrate how a downtown high rise should be. Each floor in the building has only one unit. It also avoids the 'right-in-your-face' kind of design and allows room for buildings behind to access views. The progress of modern architecture in Vancouver is fully demonstrated by just walking around the west end area.
West End Walk (8)
Fondest memory: Walk north on Jervis Street for a block and turn right on to Comox Street to see Mole Hill. At 1160 Comox is the Mace House -- the oldest building in the city.
This block has gone through some changes. In 1951 most of the houses were demolished to make room for the park you now see. The city has decided to restore the 1890s' look of the block and so all the heritage houses are being restored and renovated to the Queen Anne style. This style was a very typical architecture in Vancouver until the 1920s when the city hired an architect from St. Louis, Missouri to rezone the West End to a 3-4 storey building zone. The Queen Anne houses mostly have gingerbread details and steep roof. You can see many houses built in this style in the Strathacona area also.
There is also a community garden in the lane behind Mole Hill.
West End Walk (7)
Fondest memory: During this walk you may have noticed some plain boxy apartment buildings that lack the esthetics of heritage buildings. These are mainly built in the 1960s using the modernist style that aims to build housing quickly and efficiently. The walls you see are curtain walls, structural walls are recessed behind the exterior wall and the separation between rooms are just thick enough for the window pane. Needless to say, there is little sound proofing in these units.
Now continue east on Pendrell Street to Jervis Street and you will see St. Paul's parish. This church originally stood in Yaletown since 1805. However, with the influx of railway workers, the original settlers were terrified (scratching your head? Yeah, god-fearing christians seem to be terrified of anyone who has a different background or thinking, this is true even today) and lifted up their church and moved it to its current location is 1895.
The inside of the church looks like the inside of a ship. This is because the builders were carpenters who used to work on ships.
West End Walk (6)
Fondest memory: Take a look at the Thomas Fee House at 1119 Broughton Street. Pay special notice to the door ornaments. Fee was a notorious Vancouver resident early in the century. He was the first in Vancouver to own a motor vehicle, and was expelled from the board of trade for advocating BC to join the United States.
West End Walk (5)
Fondest memory: Continue north and immediately you will find yourself at the intersection of Nicola and Pendrell Street. Turn right to go to the Pendrell Suites at 1419 Pendrell. It was built in 1932 using the Georgian Revival style, the building is symmetrical, and was built using brick stones.
Does this building look familiar? If you are an X-files fan, you may recognize that this is the home of Scully.
West End Walk (4)
Fondest memory: Go back to Nicola Street and continue north for just a few steps to the Tudor style building at 1160 Nicola. Built in 1932, this building represents a time when more amenities, like central heating and refrigerator, were available.
West End Walk (3)
Fondest memory: Walk north on Nicola and cross Davie Street. You will see the Gabriola, so called because all the stones used were quarried on Gabriola Island. This heritage building was completed in 1901 and was home to B. T. Rogers (owner of BC Sugar refinery). However, Mr. Rogers only lived there for 10 years and moved away, as did other affluent people, because more and more lower income workers have moved to the West End.
The building is now home to the Macroni Grill restaurant. Stop by for dinner but the food, though decent, is not amongst the best that you could get in Vancouver.
The Gabriola has the short-lived Arts and Craft style that was pioneered in England. It has steep roof and the unique design that, no matter which direction you approach the house from, it looks like you are facing the front of the house. Walk around the house and see for yourself!
West End Walk (2)
Fondest memory: Continue to walk along English Bay. This is the first green space in the city by the shoreline. Back in the 20's, a brass band used to play in the stand in Alexandra Park. It is on your left hand side on the block after you have passed the Boat House.
You will also see some older apartments. If a building has balconies, then it must be built after the 70s because it was only then that the bylaw prohibiting balconies was lifted.
Stay on Beach Avenue until you hit Nicola Street, turn left and head away from the water. At 1386 Nicola is Kensington Place that was built with marvellous details. More noticeable are its recessed balcony and poured concrete portal over the door that are evidence of the social status of the original owner. Each unit has area in excess of 1500 sq. ft and has rooms for maids and servants!
Favorite thing: Did you see any rock display (see photo) when as you walk from second beach to English Bay? There is someone who likes to come to this area and balance stones and rocks on top of one another.
Now that you are at English Bay, we can take a heritage walk around the West End. It will take about two hours.
Since you have just come out of Stanley Park after a few hours of walking, we will start the exploration of Vancouver's heritage by first taking a rest in the Sylvia Hotel restaurant. This hotel is on your left after you have come out of Stanley Park. The Sylvia was built in 1912 and was the tallest building in the west end until the 1950s. The heritage plague (a dark blue plague in the shape of an inverted triangle) in front of the building will tell you more about it.
Get a window seat and enjoy the ocean view here. If you are craving for desserts, move on to the east side Denman Street, there is a store that sells cup cakes and Mondo Gelato just a few stores down has the best ice-cream in Vancouver.
OK, we better get going!
Vancouver's old downtown skyline
Fondest memory: I took this photo the day Canada won the gold Olympic medal for men's hockey. In fact, I took this picture about 20 minutes after the game ended. Every car was honking and people were cheering until well after the sun went down. During my walk through downtown, I took this photo of some of Vancouver's famous landmarks.
Photo: From left to right: Harbour Centre (the building with the revolving restaurant up top), apartment building, the new Vancouver Sun/The Province building, The Sun Tower (the old Vancouver Sun offices with the green copper roof), the Lions (the twin snow-capped mountain peaks named after an old native legend), and the Woodwards 'W' (the left-over tower from the now-defunct Woodward's Canadian department store which closed in 1994). The Sun Tower was a prominent feature of Vancouver's skyline back in the "olden day" - but not to much anymore. This is only one small section of downtown's skyline - not representative of the entire city.
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