I took a drive past the Pantages Theatre at East Hastings and Main yesterday. It was pouring with rain and the Downtown Eastside looked even bleaker than normal, like something out of a Dostoevsky novel.
It’s hard to imagine that this skuzzy part of town was once the central business district, but go back a century and the Pantages was part of a thriving theatre district and downtown core.
The Street Directories of 1908—the first time the Pantages Theatre appears by name—show the theatre surrounded by clothing companies, real estate offices and coffee houses.
Over the years, several groups have fought to save the former vaudeville theatre, one of a North American chain owned by Alexander Pantages. Our Pantages Theatre was the second that he built–his first opened in Seattle and no longer exists.
According to John Mackie the theatre was converted into a movie house in the late 1920s, and has gone by several names including the Royal, State, Queen, Avon, City Nights and the Sung Sing.
This poor old pile of bricks has sat vacant since 1994—left to rot from the inside out. Attempts to hash out a deal with the city to restore the theatre failed, and to no one’s surprised, the city issued a demolition order last Thursday.
Heritage Vancouver calls it “demolition by neglect.”
You can’t see it from the street, but when I wandered down the back alley you can see the bulldozers have already pulled down everything behind the neighbouring buildings. What’s tragic is that there’s no development plan in place, we’ll be left with another gaping hole. Now it’s only a matter of days until it all comes down, and it will be just like it never was.
© All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, all blog content copyright Eve Lazarus.