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Browsing the city’s candy store of history

December 14, 2014
"Broadway Falls" created when the Heather Street Creek overflowed and Cameron's Drug Store

“Broadway Falls” at southeast corner of Broadway Ave. and Heather St., 1909. — Vancouver Archives: AM1376-: CVA 218-5.

The archives of the city of Vancouver, B.C. are searchable online and provide an indispensable resource for anyone seriously researching the history of the city.

The archives also have thousands of digital objects online for the rest of us to amuse ourselves with: over 77,000 high resolution photographs, as well as hundreds of videos and audio recordings.

The photos and videos are of buildings and streets and people going about their everyday business.

The sight of curiously over-dressed black-and-white people of a bygone era living their lives in the same streets that we do — often in  the very same buildings, strikes some kind of chord with me.

 History is interesting but not always very interesting

One game I play in the city archives is to find photos of old buildings and locations that I recognize in the Fairview neighbourhood and then match them with new photographs.

Here are three examples showing how, even when I get them right, the results can be a bit…underwhelming.

Fairmont Apartments at 10th Avenue and Spruce Street (1927)
Vancouver Archives: AM54-S4-: Bu N256.

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Apartment buildings along Cambie Street at W. 23rd Avenue (1940-1948).
Vancouver Archives: AM1184-S1-: CVA 1184-1939.

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Fir Street and 16th Avenue looking north (1980-1997).
Vancouver Archives: COV-S505-1-: CVA 772-604.

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See how the last of the three views  — down Fir Street from 16th Avenue — hardly changes at all?

Admittedly there’s only a 30-some year gap between the two photos but still, most of the change is accounted for by the fact that the second photo is in colour.

The trees on the viewer’s left have grown some but almost nothing much on the right has changed at all; even the light pole is the same!

From → Vancouver B.C.

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