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A northbound view of Granville Street, Downtown
A southbound view of Granville Street, Downtown

Granville Street is a major street in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and part of Highway 99.

Contents

Location

Granville Street runs generally north-south through the centre of Vancouver, passing through several neighbourhoods and commercial areas, differing appreciably in their land value and the wealth of their residents.

Granville runs northeast-southwest:

Then, Granville Street runs north-south:

  • Through Uptown (also known as the Granville Rise or South Granville, extending approximately from 4th Avenue (map) to 16th Avenue (map)), crossing West Broadway.(map)
  • Through Shaughnessy (from 16th Avenue to 41st Avenue (map))
  • Near Kerrisdale and Oakridge (Granville borders both neighbourhoods from 41st Avenue to 57th Avenue (map); unofficially, Kerrisdale begins at 33rd Avenue (map))
  • Through Marpole (from 57th Avenue to 70th Avenue (map); 70th Avenue becomes South-West Marine Drive west of Granville)
  • Near the Fraser River, where it merges with another section of South-West Marine Drive (map)

Finally, Granville Street forks near the Fraser River: southwest-northeast towards Oak Street, and northwest-southeast towards the Arthur Laing Bridge that leads to Richmond and Vancouver International Airport.

History

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19th century

After "Gastown," Granville was the name of Vancouver, until it was incorporated as "City of Vancouver" in 1886. The name honours Granville Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville, who was British Secretary of State for the Colonies at the time of local settlement.

20th century

The last few remaining pornography and peep show stores on Granville Street
The shutdown Granville Book Company, an independently-owned Granville Street bookstore
The Orpheum Theatre with advertising for the movie Lady Luck (dated about 1946); note the Commodore Ballroom on the left
The beginning of the end: small businesses on Granville Street
Looking North at 12th and Granville past the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage.
The Orpheum Theatre, advertising the Vancouver Symphony Orcherstra
The Vogue Theatre

During the 1950s, Granville Street attracted many tourists to one of the world's largest displays of neon signs. [1]

The north end of Granville Street passes through an area of the city called Gastown, which, in the late 1960s and 1970s, was home to the largest counterculture community in Canada. Today, Cuba libre posters, at times seen decorating lampposts, and head shops, still open for business, are reminders of this part of Granville Street's history.

Towards the middle of the twentieth century, the Downtown portion of Granville Street had become a flourishing centre for entertainment, known for its cinemas (built along the "Theatre Row," from the Granville Bridge to where Granville Street intersects Robson Street), restaurants, clubs, the Vogue and Orpheum theatres, and, later, arcades, pizza parlours, pawn stores, pornography shops and strip clubs.

By the late 1990s, Granville Street suffered gradual deterioration and many movie theatres, such as "The Plaza, Caprice, Paradise, [and] Granville Centre [...] have all closed for good," writes Dmitrios Otis in his article "The Last Peep Show." In the early 2000s, the news of the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympic Games, to be hosted in Whistler, a series of gentrification projects, still undergoing as of 2006, had caused the shutdown of many more businesses that had heretofore become landmarks of the street and of the city.

21st century

Also, Otis writes that "once dominated by movie theatres, pinball arcades, and sex shops [Downtown Granville is being replaced] by nightclubs and bars, as [...it] transforms into a booze-based 'Entertainment District'." In April 2005, Capitol 6, a beloved 1920s-era movie theatre complex (built in 1921 and restored and reopened in 1977) closed its doors (Chapman). By August 2005, Movieland Arcade, located at 906 Granville Street became "the last home of authentic, 8 mm 'peep show' film booths in the world" (Otis). On July 7, 2005, the Granville Book Company, a popular and independently-owned bookstore was forced to close (Tupper) due to the rising rents and regulations the city began imposing in the early 2000s in order to "clean-up" the street by the 2010 Olympics and combat Vancouver's "No Fun City" image. (Note the "Fun City" red banners put up by the city on the lamp-posts in the pizza-shop photograph). Landlords have been unable to find replacement tenants for many of these closed locations; for example, the Granville Book Company site was still boarded up and vacant as of July 12, 2006.

While proponents of the Granville gentrification project in general (and the 2010 Olympics in specific) claim that the improvements made to the street will only benefit its residents, the customers frequenting the clubs and the remaining theatres and cinemas, maintain that the project is a temporary solution, since the closing down of the less "classy" businesses, and the build-up of Yaletown-style condominiums in their place, will not eliminate the unwanted pizzerias, corner-stores and pornography shops - and their patrons - but will simply displace them elsewhere (an issue reminiscent of the city's long-standing inability to solve the problems of the DTES).

Construction of the Canada Line

Translink: Changes To Bus Service During Construction

On April 24, 2006, construction of the Downtown Vancouver portion of the SkyTrain Canada Line subway had caused the routes of many trolley buses to be diverted to Seymour Street (northbound) and Howe Street (southbound). The right side of the street (looking northeastward), between Smithe and Robson is currently in the process of being converted to a metered parking zone and, according to TransLink's Canada Line publicity campaign, "as of April 24th there is no vehicle traffic on Granville Street from Robson Street north, for about two years during Canada Line construction."

Although the Canada Line might bring new benefits to the Downtown core, by connecting it with the rest of the city and the Richmond airport (via the Cambie Street corridor), a number of critics have pointed out that the project will hurt the businesses and residents located near the construction areas (hence the half-hearted slogan of the aforementioned TransLink ad campaign: "Business is open along the Canada Line").

For construction advisories, see the official website of the Canada Line.

Cultural references

  • The poet Michael Khmelnitsky wrote Granville, a book of poetry about the street 205KB .PDF file
  • Granville Street is the second most expensive property in the game Canadian Monopoly.

References and further reading

Empty storefronts and rising Rents: a common sight on Granville Street in 2005
Movieland Arcade Street Sign

Current issues

History

Listings and tour guides

Searchable resources


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