100 block West Hastings, 1997
After Woodward’s closed in 1993, this block felt eerily deserted, hence the title “Dead Zone” given this photo by the Sun. It also became the place to buy crack cocaine (whereas Main & Hastings was for pharmaceuticals), leading Frances Bula to dub this “the Worst Block in Vancouver” in 1998. In a book about Stan Douglas’s photograph “Every Building on 100 West Hastings,” geographers Nick Blomley and Geoff Sommers responded to Bula’s Sun article by providing some historical context to the creation of Vancouver’s skid road.
Since the Woodward’s site was redeveloped, the south side buildings have mostly been renovated for health spas, trendy (read: expensive) office spaces, and the like, but many of them remain empty. In fact, if you compare Douglas’s photo to what’s there now, the proportion of empty spaces is pretty similar, except that the pawn shops, convenience stores, and art spaces that took advantage of the relatively cheap rents and catered to low income people have been largely pushed out, as have a number of tenants that resided in the upper level single room occupancy hotels.
While the transformation of the block is not yet complete, gentrification has, as of this writing, been a step sideways, bringing much needed renovations to heritage buildings, but at the expense of many long term residents and creatives who lived and worked here. Also worth noting is that the newly arrived gentry and media have taken to referring to this strip as Gastown, even though historically Gastown never included Hastings Street.
Source: Vancouver Sun, ”The Gastown Project”
I am annoyed that they are trying to make this Gastown. It is not Gastown, you pretentious wankers.Source: gastownproject.com
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