They show the False Creek area east of Main Street.
These photos show False Creek on the east side of Main Street.
It might not seem unusual at first, but if you walk down Main Street these days, you’ll see shops and trains on its east side.
This is because the area was filled in in 1917.
These two massive and incredibly detailed panoramas from the Vancouver archives capture this rather significant shift. In the first, the area is being prepared while the second panorama actually shows the area mostly filled in as new stations are built.
The extremely wide photos – taken from somewhere where the Main Street-Science World station is now – show everything east of Main Street; on the left you can see Main Street and the Ivanhoe Hotel. On the right side there is the Main Street Bascule Bridge, which was used to cross False Creek before it was land.
While the scale of this transformation in what is now a densely packed part of Vancouver is quite stunning, these photos are impressive in another way: the detail they contain.
Zoom out, so you can see the full width of the photo, there are a few good spots. But zoom in and you get plenty of detail showing more of what the area and life was like in 1916-17.
In the previous photo, an advertisement for “delicious and refreshing” Coca Cola can be seen painted on a building. And just to the east (to the right) is the neighborhood of Strathcona, which in some ways doesn’t look much different now, with lots of houses and smaller buildings.
As you scan to the right, False Creek fills the view up close, but in the distance the east side of town can be made out. Already in 1916, it seems considerable.
On the south bank of False Creek, you can see industry in the form of the Canadian Northwest Steel Co. and Jingle Pot Coal. Down the bridge, streetcars take people from the peninsula to Mount Pleasant along Main Street, with tall lampposts in the distance.
The 1917 photo has much of the same background (although it was probably taken on a clearer day as the mountains can be seen in the distance), but the foreground has more going on.
There is a horse and carriage heading north under the Coca Cola sign, a new sign states that the Great Northern Pacific Railway Station is under construction and nearby is a massive new building with some elevated train tracks outside ‘back. The site is covered with draft horses and construction workers.
The deck is still in use as a bridge, as the area was drained but not raised right away. It is used by horse-drawn carriages and cars.
The south side of False Creek is even more built up, with a significant amount of smoke and steam from trains obscuring some buildings.