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Downtown Vancouver in 1981 and today

A look at downtown Vancouver near B.C. Place from the Vancouver Lookout, on Wednesday February 17.

A look at downtown Vancouver near B.C. Place from the Vancouver Lookout, on Wednesday February 17.

During the Games, I posted photos of downtown Vancouver from the Vancouver Lookout observation deck.

And then, in the comments, Dave2 posted a picture of downtown Vancouver in 1981: a very similar shot to one of mine, but how things have changed! Have a look: my photo is above and Dave’s is below.

A look at downtown Vancouver in 1981, toward where B.C. Place is today. Photo by <a href=>Dave2</a>.

A look at downtown Vancouver in 1981, toward where B.C. Place is today. Photo by Dave2.

Here’s what Dave added later in the comments too, after I remarked on how amazing the differences were:

Jhenifer, ain’t that the truth! Even by 1985 that view had totally changed, with all of the rail yards and the associated buildings cleared out, the opening of the Expo Preview Centre (now Science World) and the construction of Skytrain … And now, you can’t even _see_ Science World with all the highrises.


  • By Cliff, March 11, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

    We’ve come a long way according to those pictures.

    It’s a little saddening to see that the Downtown Eastside seems to be shifting westward as the years go by. The area near Woodwards was quite pleasant in years past. But now even Cambie at Hastings is depressing to look at.

  • By ericmk, March 11, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

    Wow! It looks like over the course of these years, that copper-domed building (I don’t know what building it is, Google Maps says its the Sun Tower!)has changed from its nice copper color to its green petina hue! Or is that just the overall sepia tint of the photo?

  • By ;-), March 12, 2010 @ 7:31 am

    The Sun Tower was repainted as green.

  • By ;-), March 12, 2010 @ 7:34 am

    There was some recent view corridor studies that might be of interest….
    Vancouver has a spectacular natural setting. The location of the downtown on a peninsula with a mountain backdrop and an ocean setting creates signature views that define the image of Vancouver and are composed of three prominent horizontal features: the shoreline, the downtown skyline and the North Shore Mountains.

    To this end, Vancouverites have long supported the beauty of this dynamic mixture of water, architecture and mountain scenery. Citizens identified the preservation of views as amongst their top priorities for the city in the Goals for Vancouver surveys of 1978-1979. In the late 1980’s development was anticipated in the Downtown South and along the north of False Creek. Without a structured approach to building location and height limits it was conceivable that views of the downtown, the mountains and the waters of False Creek could be lost as these lands were developed.

    As a response the City initiated the Vancouver Views Study in 1988 which sought to understand how the public valued a variety of public views. The outcomes of this study resulted in a proposed view protection policy featuring a number of view corridors.

    In 1989 the City of Vancouver approved the View Protection Guidelines containing 26 protected view corridors. The policy protects views of the North Shore Mountains, the downtown skyline and the waters of False Creek from a number of public view points located along the south shore of False Creek, arterial roadways, and from the Granville and Cambie bridges.

    In the intervening 20 years a significant number of new buildings have been added to the downtown skyline. The view corridors have had a visible effect on the site location and design of buildings, resulting in the retention of panoramic and narrow views in and around the downtown area.[quote]

    Here’s some additional view cones…

  • By Dave 2, March 12, 2010 @ 8:58 pm

    @Cliff, you’re certainly right that the 100 block West Hasting went downhill fast after Woodwards closed down. A TV show (Sliders, iirc) filmed a post apocalyptic scene there in the mid 90s and barely had to do any set dressing at all.

    Thank you Jhenifer for taking my post and publicizing this photo further, though I must add that I did not actually take this photo, it was taken by a floormate of mine at Totem Park residence at UBC back in 1981…I have not seen him in almost 30 years though someone with his rather unique name is listed on Facebook, who knows, it might be him…

  • By ;-), March 12, 2010 @ 10:59 pm

    Here’s some views from the Dunsmuir viaduct looking at the Lookout from 1978 and 2003….

    Have fun looking at the other links on the page….

    Here’s some more before and after images…

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