This post is a duplicate of a post in my Carrall Street Journal.
Art on Carrall – literally about Carrall Street. This is the kind of thing I’ve been thinking about for years, and now it looks like Althea Thauberger is making art about this street and its complexities.
Can’t wait to walk out my door and see what she has put together.
ARTSPEAK | CARRALL STREET | ALTHEA THAUBERGER | SEP 30
CARRALL STREET | ALTHEA THAUBERGER
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
8-11pm in the 200 block of Carrall Street, Vancouver
Carrall Street Public Forum
Thursday, October 2, 2008
7pm at 33 West Cordova Street
Althea Thauberger’s one-night performance, Carrall Street, will present the
street (brightly lit like a film set at nighttime) as a stage, or zone of
illumination where the roles of performer and spectator blur. The
interweaving of organized performers, passers-by and audience members will
allow for unforeseen interactions to take place that reveal something of
the street’s history, its current issues, as well as its future. Carrall
Street is planned in collaboration with local directors, performers and
Carrall Street is one of the oldest streets in Vancouver. It can be argued
that the entire history (and pre-history) of the city can be mapped along
its six blocks. Caught between urban gentrification and decay, the street
marks transitions from the most touristic parts of the city to what is
often described as the poorest neighbourhood in Canada. In ways that are
both unique and similar to other inner cities, it has been affected by
development, public policy neglect and polarized politics.
A publication accompanying the project will be available in 2009.
Althea Thauberger is an artist based in Vancouver. Her work involves
research and collaboration that result in performances, films, photographs,
audio recordings and books.
The performance and forum are free and open to the public.
This project has been supported by Arts Partners in Creative Development,
The Canada Council for the Arts, the City of Vancouver and the Portland
This post is a duplicate of a post in my Carrall Street Journal.
This afternoon Vancouver City Council will be addressing the situation of the Boulder Hotel development proposal, which has been in the works for some time now. Incorporating the old Pig and Whistle one-story building into an innovative residential/commercial project, the developers are looking for more support from the city to bring life back into this building that hasn’t seen use on its upper floors for over 28 years. From the street it doesn’t look abandoned, as there have always been restaurants on its main floor, notably the new Boneta has been making a bit of a splash. But two floors above the restaurant have been empty for all this time.
The project has been brought by the developers twice to the civic Gastown Heritage and Planning Committee for consultation and approval of plans, particularly for heritage facade considerations. It definitely is a pity that this building which had been in the original centre of Vancouver should have been left to languish for so many years. Archival photos show this building in its heyday surrounded by bustling crowds, active and well-used. As Gastown changes, this building is in a prime location for redevelopment. There have been many delays in this project going past the planning stage, due to its need for more city support – which for some has been a contentious issue. The result of closed-door meetings between city staff and committees and the developers will be brought to Council today.
On the corner of Carrall and Cordova both the Ranier Hotel and the Boulder Hotel buildings have been unused for some time. They face each other across the intersection at Cordova. The Ranier appears to be undergoing some minor changes, but the main floor, boarded up and inactive at this time, faces the new upscale Boneta restaurant at the Boulder Hotel. It is a picture of the rate of change and the current transformation of this area.
City Reflections is a historical film project that follows the early footage shot in 1907 from the front of a streetcar in Vancouver, and recreates that same route today.
Click on this image of Hastings and Carrall from 1907 to get to their site.
Hastings and Carrall
Another part of the City’s Carrall Street Greenway site that is definitely worth a peek is their great interactive buildings inventory page. Mousing over the map reveals a photo of the building along with some current and historical information on it. Click on this page image to explore it for yourself.
The City of Vancouver has made a truly comprehensive site on the Carrall Street Greenway initiative. The first page of their History section has wonderful nuggets of information that anyone interested in this part of Vancouver will be fascinated to read. To go there, just click on the page image below:
An art exhibit inspired by the signs of Vancouver is currently on at the Interurban, featuring the work of Christian Dahlberg, Cristina Peori, Brad Jansen, Jennifer Merasty, and Quin Martins.
The show marks the transitions so visible in Vancouver these days as Cristina remarks in her writing on the show:
What has remained largely untouched since the ’70s and before will undergo rapid change in the near future.
The buildings on Powell Street, for instance, across from Oppenheimer park have stood practically unchanged since the Japanese internments of WWII. Already signs of the coming reality are there: both the Marr and New Wings Hotels have been closed for extensive renovations, and the signs that announced them are gone. Thankfully the buildings themselves survive as this is one of the few remaining corners in the city where all the buildings are historical. A sign of true sadness is the destruction just a block away of the diminutive turquoise buildings on Gore just north of Powell where the first saki in the city was produced. Not only were these buildings authenticity itself, but they were precious signs of Canadian-Japanese heritage. In my humble opinion there should be a sign erected on this site saying the following:
“Good bye History, Character and Class, Hello Bulldozers, Concrete and Glass!”
The Dodson sign is gone, as is the Brandiz. The Fort Boogie and Smiling Buddha signs are long gone: the Cozy Corner sign (somewhat ironically named for the store at Hastings and Columbia) and the Lux were still there in 1994 but have succumbed in the interim.
If you get a chance, check it out before even the signage show about the passage of the signs is history!
It’s been a while since the last posting and this header image doesn’t at all reflect the cold, rainy Carrall Street of today. The trees have lost all their leaves, and everyone either rushes to get where they are going to, or else the street is very quiet. Hoardings are up over the old Spinning Wheel site, looks like construction is going on in there. At the corner of Pender and Carrall, Mirhab Antiques has opened a temporary store selling artifacts from India and carpets from Afghanistan. They will close again sometime in December, so that space will be empty again, I suppose.
When I started this Carrall Street Journal, I was either naive or idealistic or both. I had no commercial aspirations – you know how some people will find a very very niche topic and create a site on it, then become the only ones with that niche topic information. This drives advertisers to the niche site and it becomes a source of profit. I never did that with this journal, it was always just a volunteer neighbourhood blog. Then there was the commercial aspect of having all the businesses advertising in this journal. I didn’t take that route either: this is just an independent effort to shine a spotlight on an extraordinary Vancouver street, one that has the potential to bring a connection for the city as a whole. From the False Creek side of the city to the Coal Harbour seawall and around Stanley Park, the Carrall greenway path will connect Vancouver to itself. It also connects these other bikepaths to Maple Tree Square, the original heart of the city, and to the history that this whole area contains. In a way, I feel it can be quite poetic. In an “invisible cities” way, there are layers of meaning and life and history here that can be seen not only in the pathway from water to water that Carrall Street creates, but also in the changing times of Vancouver itself. Carrall Street is a very 21st Century project, and is sensitive as no other area of development has been to all the many stakeholders in the area. I can’t help but think of all the ghosts haunting the way, and all the spirits that were here long before Gassy Jack set up shop. How can this rather poetic view become a monetized niche-market blog? It won’t. I won’t set it up that way. So even if postings are few and far between, the Carrall Street Journal will remain as it is: a little independent blog that looks at the changes in one street of our city.
Today on CBC radio’s On the Coast, JJ Lee, the design columnist for Vancouver by Design, discusses the Carrall Street Greenway. I’m interested to hear what he puts together from various critiques of the current Greenway plan. He interviewed me an hour or so ago, and I could hear his fingers tapping on the keyboard as we spoke. But then, context is everything, so the words may have another meaning entirely in his hands.
We were both wondering if the construction on that part of Carrall and Pender might have had something to do with the Greenway. It was planned to start in October, but that’s the only sign I’ve seen so far. As it is, those old Greenway banners are looking fairly faded from our hot and sunny summer – I wonder if they’ll be replaced soon?
He told me he is also learning tailoring from the guys at the Modernize Tailors. What a great thing to do! I just went to the Modernize Tailors blog – really worth a visit! Opens your mind to all the possibilities of personal tailoring.
JJ has posted the text of his radio piece “Carrall Street Redevelopment” on his blog, Vancouver by Design.
Intersections call history and future to our minds even as we sit just waiting for the light to change. The light always seems red at Carrall and Hastings, forcing a pause, asking you to notice. It demands an answer or a recognition. It’s a bear rustling in the bushes just out of your sight. It’s the possible animal shadow in the woods at night. It’s a familiar face disappearing in the crowd. It’s the history. It’s the past, it’s the future, it’s the poetry we ignore as we search for numbers and time, money and truth. Carrall and Hastings. The first of these to call. The strongest call, in many ways. The intersection isn’t just a place where traffic flows meet. Intersect is to pierce or divide at the point of crossing. A boulder in the river. Here. Carrall and Hastings.
The poetry here is Hastings, an evocative name, one of the few that actually does call something to mind. Or elicits a clever smile as those who remember their grade 9 history say ‘1066’ and all that… whatever that was. Well 1066 was a year of hardship for an elected king Harold and his soldiers, who first defeated another Harold, Hardraata by name, and at their celebration feast were called to a second war, marching across England to battle the Norman mercenaries and indentured serf-soldiers of William (the Bastard) of Normandy. And installed at the small fortress of Hastings after this time, to sit silently by as the Norman William (the Conquerer) burnt the fields and crushed the manhood of England, were those men whose surname was merely locative “de Hastings.” We don’t know, and I couldn’t make the link, but those Earls of Hastings and of Huntington generations later had a second son, a George Fowler Hastings, who would be called “Commander”.
Hastings saw action, a lot of it, once he got out of the coast guard. He commanded the Harlequin in the East Indies, Cyclops on the west coast of Africa, Curacoa in both the Mediterranean and Black Sea. After the Russian War he spent time on land (in Portsmouth) as Superintendent of the Haslar Hospital and Royal Clarence victualling yard, before queen and ocean asked him to captain the Hannibal and then finally, to come to the Pacific and home in Esquimalt. As Commander in Chief, flagship the Zealous, and later the Nore, he made his mark on our city. Stamp’s Mill was renamed Hastings Mill. And this street that cuts from downtown to Burnaby is called, after him, Hastings Street. There was even “Hastings Townsite,” which various folk hoped would become the real town. Thus we would all leave the rowdy unshaven men in Granville/Gastown. Those more civilized folk would inhabit the Vice Admiral’s town and not the town of vice.
There is a second stanza to this one, for our Admiral cuts and separates and breaks the flow of Carrall as it stretches from waterside to waterside. And here at the intersection of Hastings and Carrall, we see the history of war and famine, a scorched-earth of conquered man. And where Hastings may have brought it down, does Carrall lift them up? From waters edge, R.W.W. Carrall, a humble Ontarian doctor working in Ladysmith, BC, was one of three important men chosen to do the hard sell of Confederation between British Columbia and Ottawa. This Robert William Weir, a patriotic Canadian of epic proportions, spent a deal of time at war himself. He volunteered as a contract doctor for the Union side of the American Civil War, serving three years as a surgeon in military hospitals in Washington DC and New Orleans before requesting release from service. He returned to medical practice on Vancouver island. In his spare time, he engaged in local politics, organized a brass band and attended the Masonic Hall in Nanaimo. His street, and soon his greenway, unites waters, a tiny echo of his dream of a united Canada stretching coast to coast.
120 years ago today vancouver went up in flames. fanned by high winds, the slash burning CP rail workers were doing on land in what is now downtown vancouver turned into a raging fire that consumed almost all of the young city. a number of people (some say 8, some say 28) died, and about one thousand wooden buildings were destroyed; they “simply melted before the fiery blast”, according to one eyewitness.
a huge flame a hundred feet long burst from the deighton hotel, leaped maple tree square and swallowed up the buildings where now stands the europe hotel. the fire went down old hastings road faster than a man could run. two iron tires and some ashes were all that was left of man, horse and cart which perished in the middle of carrall street." (from http://www.citytalks.ca/sun_article.htm)
many of the stories i’ve read focus not so much on the fire as on the amazing feats of support and rebuilding that followed immediately afterwards. maybe that’s because the fire itself was very short – between twenty and forty-five minutes, according to various accounts. but maybe the experience of rising up from this catastrophe was also stronger than the devastation.one of the many heroes was jailer john clough who, rumour has it, was deep enough into the sauce to have had intimate knowledge of jail from the inside of a cell. at any rate, after the fire, he appeared out of nowhere with armfuls of blankets, which he gave to the people who had not coats. another rumour has it that he had previously stolen the blankets from the jail – but hey, who’s asking questions?
it looks like in the downtown eastside, only three cottages in the prior street area were still standing. the houses on carrall street were all gone. but that didn’t prevent the mayor from erecting a tent at the foot of carrall street, to serve as a temporary city hall.
the citizens of new westminister sent food and all the help they could, and the survivors were fed by one of the many bridges that seemed to have been in existence back then.
for a few years in the 1920’s, june 13 was celebrated as “vancouver day”, to remember the devastation and rebuilding that happened on that fateful day. too bad they dropped that – i think it would be a great idea to reinstate it. i for my part am inspired by the spirit of strength and neighbourliness that raged through the city on that fateful day.