Glitzy 26-Floor “Origami” Tower Proposed near Historic Gastown

Image from Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill

Image from Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill

Vancouver’s historic Waterfront Station may soon be getting a glitzy new neighbour.

A sleek, 26-story tower – described as “origami” in glass and steel – has been proposed for the parking lot currently located between the 1912 station on the edge of Gastown and the adjacent Landing building, a century-old office building that houses the Steamworks bar and restaurant.

The tower, proposed by Cadillac Fairview, is designed by Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture,the same U.S.-based firm who built the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the world’s tallest building) and who are working on Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Tower, to be the new tallest building when completed in 2018.

To fit in the small space available, the tower folds in at its base, enveloping one corner of the historic CPR train station.  Higher up, it broadens to resemble the new World Trade Centre in New York, with angled planes of glass and steel. Continue reading:
Glitzy 26-Floor “Origami” Tower Proposed near Historic Gastown

New All-Access Tour Goes Inside Vancouver’s Historic Orpheum Theatre

Photo credit: MichaelThoeny | Wikimedia Commons

Photo credit: MichaelThoeny | Wikimedia Commons

You may have seen the big neon sign on Granville Street, but how much do you really know about Vancouver’s historic Orpheum Theatre?

Special walking tours are now giving visitors an inside look at the nearly century-old theatre, which started its life as a vaudeville house.  The 90-minute tours (for the bargain price of $10) shed light on the long, sometimes troubled history of one of Vancouver’s most iconic landmarks.

When it opened its doors in 1927, the Orpheum was the biggest theatre in Canada, built with 3,000 seats at the astronomical cost of $1.25 million.   Continue reading:
New All-Access Tour Goes Inside Vancouver’s Historic Orpheum Theatre

Historic Vancouver: Sylvia Hotel Turns 100

Photo credit: Stephen Dyrgas | Flickr

Photo credit: Stephen Dyrgas | Flickr

The views from Vancouver’s English Bay are hard to resist: ocean, snowcapped mountains, a cruise ship or two headed to sea.  But turn back toward shore and you’ll be rewarded with something more: a mini lesson on Vancouver history.

Beach Avenue is lined with architecture that marks Vancouver’s march from West Coast outpost to cosmopolitan mecca.  There’s a mock-Tudor-style apartment block, bleak ’70s-era concrete towers, gleaming new condo high-rises with mirrored glass and – most impressive of all – the eight-story, ivy-covered Sylvia Hotel.

It was 1913 when the Sylvia first opened her doors as a 77-unit apartment block.  At the time, Beach Avenue was still lined with houses, an idyllic residential suburb removed from the bustle of downtown.

A century later, English Bay has been swallowed by downtown Vancouver but the Sylvia  remains almost unchanged – a graceful reminder of a simpler time. Continue reading:
Historic Vancouver: Sylvia Hotel Turns 100

Vintage Bowling (and beer) at Canada’s Oldest Alley: Inside Vancouver’s historic 1930 Commodore Lanes

Photo credit: Richelle Akimow | Flickr

When it comes to Vancouver icons, most everyone has heard of the Commodore Ballroom.  The classy, Art Deco nightclub on Granville Street has been hosting big name music acts since it opened its doors in 1929.  Today, you can still bust a move on the famous, horsehair-padded dance floor (for extra oomph).

But did you know that directly beneath the club is Canada’s oldest bowling alley? Commodore Lanes was opened in 1930 – only months after the Ballroom – and has operated continuously ever since.

Follow the neon Billiards and Bowling sign on Granville Street down a set of concrete stairs and you’ll discover a little piece of Vancouver history that’s still alive and kicking.  Downstairs is an open, 18,800-square-foot room filled with the thunk and clatter of balls crashing into pins.  There are twelve lanes of five-pin bowling, pool tables, foosball and pinball machines and – of course – a licensed lounge serving jugs of Granville Island beer.

The place is truly a step back in time – right down to the lingering smell of cigarette smoke from nearly a century of toking that still clings to its walls. Continue reading:
Vintage Bowling (and beer) at Canada’s Oldest Alley: Inside Vancouver’s historic 1930 Commodore Lanes

Gastown Streets May Lose their Cobblestones

Photo credit: kk+ | Flickr

As world cities go, Vancouver – incorporated just 126 years ago in 1886 – is a young whipper-snapper.  But if there’s one place in the city that truly feels rich with history, it’s Gastown.

It was in Gastown, after all, where “Gassy” Jack Deighton opened the city’s first saloon back in 1867.  Many of the brick Victorian buildings in the neighbourhood today are originals – dating from the 1890s.   Strolling Gastown’s cobblestone streets, under its old-fashioned street lights, feels like stepping back in time.

At least for the moment.  A recent Vancouver Sun article reports that the days of Gastown’s cobblestones may be numbered.  Apparently, the stones are cracked and wearing out.  They’ve been patched and repatched over the years with asphalt.  They just can’t stand up to the traffic and the tour buses.  So, the city is considering whether it’s time for them to finally go.

Before you start a “Save the Cobblestones” petition, however, there is one quirky fact to be aware of.

Continue reading:
Gastown Streets May Lose their Cobblestones

A blast from the past: check out this retro Vancouver video clip

My friend and fellow travel writer Randall Shirley posted a vintage newsreel clip about Vancouver on Facebook and it’s too fun not to share further afield.

Sorry I couldn’t make it appear here–embedding iFrames in a WordPress post is beyond my skill set–but this link will take you directly there: Rockies Flight to Vancouver.

Vancouver was evidently quite the hottie in her youth–but she’s definitely aging well! Enjoy the trip down memory lane…