Our Missing Theatre Heritage – What were we thinking?

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The Rex Theatre, 25 West Hastings Street, 1914, CVA 99 240
The Rex Theatre, 25 West Hastings Street, 1914, CVA 99 240

In past blogs I’ve written about the Strand, the Pantages and the Empress–all theatres that once existed in downtown Vancouver, but have long since been turned into parking lots or cheaper, uninteresting buildings.

It’s hard to imagine that 100 years ago the Hastings Street area had a thriving theatre district, filled with opulent buildings, cafes and people, and known as the “Hastings Great White Way.”

I decided to take a look at the city directories from 100 years ago and take a stroll through Vancouver’s theatre district. Just look what we’ve done with the space.

1920
Columbia Theatre, 64 West Hastings, CVA 99-3293

In 1914 the National Theatre and the Columbia Theatre sat side by side at 58 and 64 West Hastings Street, just across from the Rex Theatre. The space is now a “developer ready” lot.

Once the site of the National and Columbia Theatres at 58 and 64 West Hastings
Once the site of the National and Columbia Theatres at 58 and 64 West Hastings

The Bijou Theatre sat at 333 Carrall Street just off Hastings Street. It was demolished in 1940. The photo (below) and the story of its life and death is at the Changing Vancouver blog.

Bijou Theatre, 1913 CVA LGN 995
Bijou Theatre, 1913 CVA LGN 995
333 Carrall Street, 2014
333 Carrall Street, 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1913, The Vancouver Opera House turned into the Orpheum Theatre and started showing vaudeville acts. The Orpheum (but not the one we have now) sat at the 700 block Granville Street. In the Leonard Frank photo below you can see the second Hotel Vancouver behind.

 VPL 16403
VPL 16403

By 1935 the Orpheum had morphed into the Lyric and in 1969 it was a distant memory — demolished to make way for the Pacific Centre.

The gaudy Pacific Centre on the 700 block Granville
The gaudy Pacific Centre on the 700 block Granville

The Imperial Theatre was once part of a vibrant street scape along the 700-block Main.

700-block Main Street, ca.1918 CVA 99-1269
700-block Main Street, ca.1918 CVA 99-1269

The theatre is long gone and the two adjacent buildings on the corner of Main and Union and what’s now the Brickyard are likely soon to be replaced by another boxy glass condo building.

700-block Main Street, 2014
700-block Main Street, 2014

The Star Theatre was at 327 Main Street in 1914.

Star Theatre CVA 447321in 1951
Star Theatre CVA 447321in 1951

Sources:

Changing Vancouver – then and now blog

Murray Maisey’s slide show on Hastings Theatre

For more posts see: Our Missing Heritage

© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.

 

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