Posts Tagged ‘Vancouver History’

24 hours video: The Flack Block – Heritage Love

April 3rd, 2009

The heritage landmark, The Flack Block, reopens its doors to socially progressive businesses. This video accompanies yesterday’s 24 hours news story about the need to retain our heritage buildings. 

Robert speaks about the newly reopened Flack Block building, showing off some of the great features including the magnificent hand-carved entry archway, some of the challenges of working on a heritage building, and touching on some of the historic elements of the building from it’s gold rush days.

Flack Block: Tides Renewal Centre Springs to Life

March 3rd, 2009
Dominion Building and Flack Block


Work on the Flack Block heritage restoration at West Hastings and Cambie Street is almost complete. Joel Solomon of Renewal posted about moving their offices into the Flack Block on their blog. In addition to Renewal, other tenants of the new office space include Tides Canada, Hollyhock Leadership Institute, Penner & Associates, Forest Ethics, Raised Eyebrow, and Rainforest Solutions Project. See more pictures of their office space and some magnificent detail photos of the beautiful stonework on the archway on their Flickr gallery.

Below is an excerpt from Joel’s post:

Tides Renewal Centre Springs to Life
by Joel Solomon on January 26, 2009

The Tides Renewal Centre is springing to life. The exquisite renovation of the Flack Block by Robert Fung and Salient Group stands kitty corner from Victory Square on the Cambie and Hastings adjacent to the Woodward’s redevelopment.

This intersection was once the centre of the City. Victory Square was the original site of the Courthouse – across from it rose the Flack Block in 1898, one of the largest and most elaborate buildings in the city at the time. (Yes, the Dominion Building was a late comer to the ‘hood).  The location alone ensured it would become a local landmark. The Klondike gold rush spurred a building boom in the 1890’s on Hastings Street, as Vancouver was one of the main supply centres for those heading to the gold fields. For decades afterward, Hastings Street remained the central shopping district in Vancouver. (more…)

Vancouver Sun: From commercial hub to heart of the Downtown Eastside

November 20th, 2008
Gassy Jack and The Alhambra Building at what used to be the city's main focus.

Gassy Jack sits in front of The Alhambra Building at Carral and Water Street.

From commercial hub to heart of the Downtown Eastside
Home to some of Vancouver’s coolest bars, a stone’s throw away are junkies, crackheads

by John Mackie
Vancouver Sun
November 18, 2008

Carrall is one of the shortest streets in Vancouver, but it’s also one of the most important. It was the first street surveyed for the Granville townsite in 1870, the place where Gassy Jack Deighton built his infamous saloon. For much of Vancouver’s history it was a commercial hub, the connection between Gastown, the Hastings Street shopping area and Chinatown.

But today Carrall is the heart of the troubled Downtown Eastside, a street of extremes. It’s home to some of Vancouver’s coolest bars and restaurants, but a stone’s throw from the trendies you’ll find junkies and crackheads huddled around doorways like extras from Night of the Living Dead.

Things may be changing. Several buildings on or near Carrall are being restored, and the city is going full speed ahead on a Carrall street “greenway” that will link Gastown to False Creek. If everything works out, Carrall might be the centrepiece of the revitalization of the city’s historic core.

Then again, it might not. The Downtown Eastside’s problems have deep historical roots that have resisted revitalization schemes before.

Long before Europeans arrived to lay the foundations for Vancouver, the area around Carrall street was well known to local natives.

“Carrall Street was a tidal mud flat-y area,” said heritage expert John Atkin.

“At high tide, it almost connected over to Burrard Inlet. It was used as a portage route for natives. Early settlers could also get their rowboats from Burrard Inlet over to False Creek and back again.”

The area was so wet that when the streets were laid out, the sidewalks were raised.

“Hastings and Carrall are much higher than they would have been in the natural landscape,” says Atkin.

“The sidewalks for Carrall street are actually eight feet above the ground level.”

Carrall was the first street laid out in the survey for the Granville townsite.

“It was up against the Hastings Mills timber lease boundary,” Atkin said.

“That’s why the Granville townsite started there. Then he surveyed six blocks from Carrall street. He laid out Water Street parallel to the waterfront, over to Abbott and Cambie, then he surveyed Cordova and Hastings. That gave you six blocks. Carrall Street became the zero point in the street numbering system for east and west.”

Gassy Jack’s saloon stood at the southwest corner of Carrall and Water. It was made out of wood, and burned down in the Great Fire of June 13, 1886. The brick Byrnes Block/Alhambra Hotel quickly sprang up in its place, and may be the oldest building in the city on its original site.

The Alhambra now anchors the most historic block in the city, which includes the Ferguson Block (1886-7), the Abrams Block (possibly 1887), the Bodega Hotel (1887), the Tremont Hotel (1887), the Town and Robinson Block (1890), and the Boulder Hotel (1890).