Sustainable, modern living in Vancouver's urban core

West End History

West End History


The West End is located in the most densely populated, intensively active portion of British Columbia’s Lower Mainland. It shares Vancouver’s peninsula with the Downtown, Central Business District and Stanley Park. Until the turn of the century, the West End was only sparsely settled, due to its distance from the old Granville Townsite (Gastown). Through the 1890s the forest was logged and gradually replaced with grand Victorian homes for upper-income families. With the CPR’s development of Shaughnessy in 1910, the West End’s role as a “high-class” residential area declined and the community’s second stage of development began. Apartments were built, homes along Robson, Denman and Davie (all streetcar lines) were redeveloped as shops, and larger homes were converted into rooming houses.

The community’s first apartments were constructed on the streetcar line that ran down Robson Street. City building regulations, which lasted until 1956, restricted these early masonry buildings to six floors, and wood frame buildings to three floors.

During the 1930s and 40s, the third wave of apartment development occurred. These were low rise structures with impressive Art Deco and Tudor-inspired facades. They were designed to give the community an air of permanence and respectability.

The 1950s brought the fourth stage of redevelopment to the West End. These changes were mainly in response to zoning changes and technological advancements which allowed for more cost effective and better multi-storey construction. The majority of high-rise apartment development occurred between 1962 and 1975 where more than 220 highrises were built. This building boom created the skyline that we are familiar with today.

*Photos courtesy of the City of Vancouver Archives.

Great video of the City of Vancouver prepared for the Winter Olympics:


The City of Vancouver also recently prepared a video history of the West End:

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