GRANVILLE STREET'S HISTORY
Street is central to Vancouver’s history. The population of Vancouver increased
at a startling rate and “after development expanded outside of Gastown,
Pacific Railway –
whose terminal is at the north end of Granville Street – focused on developing
Granville Street as the central commercial street in Vancouver”.
the community of Vancouver was originally supposed to be named the “township of
Granville” after Granville Leveson-Gower, the British Secretary of State
for the Colonies. But Vancouver’s early population identified more strongly
with Jack Deighton (or Gassy Jack), the city’s first unscrupulous saloon owner,
and thus the community was called Gastown. Finally in 1886, “the city was incorporated
as the city of Vancouver, after Captain George Vancouver”, the same year of
Street began as a logging road through dense rainforest from the Fraser River
to the Burrard inlet. By the 1920s and 1930s the street slowly became the
flourishing entertainment district of the city filled with dance halls, supper
clubs and theatres popular for burlesque and various vaudeville acts.
By the 1950s, Vancouver becomes the
second neon sign capital of the world, second only to Shanghai, with over 19,000 neon signs. That’s one neon sign for every nineteen people in Vancouver at the time. Dunns neon sign on Granville Street
is the only neon sign with a heritage designation.
Slowly, along with the deterioration of the street, neon signs began to be associated
with seedy areas and activities, and in the attempt to clean up the area and
the “visual pollution”, the city banned all new neon signs in 1974. By the late
1990s, there was a major decline on Granville Street and many of the stores and
theatres began to shut down. The street became flooded with strip clubs, dive
bars, peep-shows, arcades and porn shops.
Vancouver won the bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics and the city put more
emphasis on Granville Street rejuvenation projects which focused on improving
the pedestrian experience. The rejuvenation project “responded to a demand to
improve the vitality of the street, to enhance the transit system, to improve
pedestrian movement and also to re-establish Granville Street as one of the
most important streets of the downtown area”.
rejuvenation projects were very successful and today Granville Street is lively
with restaurants, high-end retail, theatres and clubs. Granville Street is home
to timeless heritage buildings, such as the
Hudson Bay Company building, and will soon be the home
of the beautiful glass Nordstrom’s building. With many festivals such as Viva Vancouver, Granville Street has been
re-established as a place of celebration and has been transformed into a
vibrant public space.
Explore Vancouver's Neon Neighbourhoods with
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