Sunday, January 6, 2019

Then and Now: Sinclair Building, Vancouver, B.C.

Sinclair Building at Hastings and Granville, Vancouver, B.C.

Then and Now Hastings at Granville in Vancouver in May 1907
Granville Street at Hastings in Vancouver, B.C. in May 1907.
I have written elsewhere about a video taken in May 1907 of downtown Vancouver, B.C. If you are interested in the video, which includes a lot more street scenes, click the link. This film provides a unique opportunity to go back in time to a place that has transformed dramatically in the past hundred years. Here, we look at how the corner of Hastings and Granville in Vancouver has evolved from May 1907 to the 2010s.

Then and Now Hastings at Granville in Vancouver in May 1907
Granville Street at Hastings in Vancouver, B.C. in May 1907, just a little further north than in the above picture.
It is undeniable that there have been major changes to this street corner. The trollies are all gone, of course - but remnants undoubtedly still linger under the asphalt. The large building in the center is gone, which is a pity, as it is a classic of Victorian architecture.

Let me point out something a little more subtle that has changed dramatically. In the shots above, there's something you are bound to overlook that isn't present nearly as much. What is that? People. Yes, there are a couple of people here and there in the recent shot below. However, look how many there are in the 1907 shots! They are everywhere. Women wearing bustles, men wearing suits, everyone hurrying here and there.

In the recent shot, by contrast, there are some people, but they aren't nearly as numerous, and they aren't dressed up at all. They don't look in any hurry, and they most definitely are not seen in the street. The change is not because there are fewer inhabitants of Vancouver - it is many times larger now, and this remains a key downtown area. Instead, the change simply reflects different patterns in how people live. This is a very significant but almost unnoticeable change over the past hundred years - people no longer inhabit these public spaces as they did. There are still people around but they are in buildings or in cars or otherwise not commingling. Society has changed, people are not in as close proximity to each other as they used to be, public areas are desolate. Food for thought, these dramatic changes happen and we don't even notice.

Now, as to what is still similar between 1907 and the 2010s, it turns out there are several things. For one, the street orientation is unchanged - there is West Hastings intersecting with Granville the same as always. Oh, and what's that building on the far (northwestern) corner on the left? Why it's the Sinclair Building! Actually, it is not yet completed in 1907, having been begun in 1905. It would take a few more years to complete and house the post office until 1958 when it was largely replaced. Today, this handsome building is part of Sinclair Centre, a large mall.

Is there anything else left from 1907? Why yes, there is. In the recent photo below, notice that clock on the right (southeastern) corner. If you look closely at the top picture above, there it is on the right behind the trolley, with only the top visible. There also are wires overhead, some things never change.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy these trips back in time as I do. Thanks for visiting this entry in my series of the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Then and Now Hastings at Granville in Vancouver
Granville Street at Hastings in Vancouver, B.C. in the 2010s (courtesy Google Street View).