I had the joy of joining one of the Vancouver Heritage Foundation’s walking tours. My work allows me to have Fridays off and I finally found an event I can attend on a Friday. This fall, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation is organizing two-part historic walks of Hastings Street. I missed part one in September, which was the Hastings West walk, but I jumped all over this Hastings East walk last Friday.
So onwards we walked passed the former City Hall. There were still two more blocks before we reached Main Street. Along this stretch of Hastings between Carrall and Columbia, we came upon one the most recent newly-restored neon signs in the city – The Only Sea Foods sign. This one is a beauty and a classic. However, from what Maurice told us, the sign has been restored, but the actual venture that was going to start up at that location hasn’t taken off yet.
Across the street on the north side of Hastings Street, there is the big blue awning of United We Can. This is a charity that has created of many recycling jobs for locals in the Downtown Eastside. It’s like the hub of urban binning. It’s great to see these kind of centres open up and provide new opportunities for residents. It seems to have been accepted by the neighbourhood as well. Above United We Can is the Mah Society of Canada. I don’t think this is their main office, but the Chinese characters clearly state the Society’s name. It looks like the Mah Society’s fitness centre or gym can be find in this building as well.
There’s also a fair amount of art popping up along Hastings. The Gam Gallery can be found at 110 East Hastings. Hanging nearby the gallery is what looks like a giant Coca-Cola ad. However, if you read carefully, it’s actually a Coca-Cola spoof ad promoting our Native heritage in the area.
Then across the street again on the north side is the Balmoral Hotel. I think this must be one of the better known hotels in the Downtown Eastside. It’s trademark neon sign is still hanging on the side of the building. It looks a little worse for wear, but there’s no mistaking this landmark.
Next part, we take a closer look at the first ever theatre in the city – the original Pantages Theatre. Unfortunately, after years of neglect, it is now being demolished.