Vancouver Then and Now Series Shows Dramatic Changes to the Cityscape

Vancouver History

Image courtesy of Vancouver Archives

A local Vancouver history buff has put together a compelling website that shows the dramatic differences that many locations have undergone in the Vancouver area. From virgin forests to high-rises in just 130 years, Vancouver has a storied past that is hinted at from this great collection of photos.

The website, called On This Spot, features a five part “Then and Now” series looking at the history of Downtown Vancouver and some of the surrounding neighbourhoods. Andrew, the creator of the website, has taken historical photos from the Vancouver Archives and transposed them with photos of the exact same locations in present day.

It’s impressive to see the changes that have happened in Vancouver’s relatively short history. While there are no castles or kings, images of horses and plows in front of where the Art Gallery now stands remain fascinating.

The Vancouver Archives has some amazing photos, including a great shot from 1912 that show streetcar rails being worked on running up Granville Street. Nowadays, those rails are underground for the Canada Line!

Vancouver archives granville street

Image courtesy of Vancouver Archives

vancouver history granville street

The same view, today! | Photo courtesy of On This Spot

Some locations, such as the Christ Church Cathedral on Burrard and Georgia has not changed since 1895. The only differences are the additional skyscraper buildings that now surround it instead of grass and trees.

Probably most interesting is the caption that follows a photo of the intersection of Cordova, Richards, and Water Street (Gastown):

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.

Great Fire Vancouver

Image courtesy of Vancouver Archives

The Vancouver Then and Now Series offers images from five neighbourhoods: Downtown, Gastown, Stanley Park, Kitsilano, and The North Shore. On this Spot brings Vancouver’s history to life via imagery, check it out to take a tour around the city and back in time!

If you’re still curious, you can also check out additional “Then and Now Series” for Victoria, as well as Nagasaki, Japan.

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