Main Street Vancouver
Main Street Dimensions
Main Street in Vancouver, British Columbia is a major north-south thoroughfare that bisects the city nearly equally between the westside neighbourhoods that extend to the University Endowment Lands on the ocean and the eastside limits of Boundary Road, which marks where the the City of Burnaby begins. From north to south Main Street crosses the Vancouver neighbourhoods of Downtown Eastside, Chinatown, Strathcona, Mount Pleasant, Riley Park, and Sunset. Major east-west intersections with Main Street from north to south are Cordova Street, Hastings Street, Georgia Viaduct, Terminal Avenue, Broadway, 12th Avenue, King Edward Avenue, 33rd Avenue, 41st Avenue, 49th Avenue, and Southeast Marine Drive.
From Waterfront Road where it begins by the Burrard Inlet, Main Street runs southward all the way to Kent Avenue, where it ends by the Fraser River, Vancouver’s southern limit. En route, the street runs through Chinatown below Hastings Street, continues past the Pacific Central railway and the Main Street/Science World SkyTrain stations, and at Terminal Avenue ascends into the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood, a residential/commercial mixture that continues south of Broadway with numerous restaurants and some fashion retail. Property values in Mount Pleasant, once working-class, are definitely on the rise.
Between 33rd and 41st avenues Main becomes more residential in its ascent to high ground. In the Sunset neighbourhood south of 41st Avenue, the street acquires an Indo-Canadian character. The Punjabi Market district begins just north of 49th Avenue, south of which the street again becomes almost entirely residential. At Main Street’s intersection with Marine Drive in South Vancouver, it becomes big-box commercial with a Real Canadian superstore and a miscellaneous mix of low-rise office space, manufacturing, and warehousing.
On the north end, Main Street is just west of the historic site of Hastings Mill, the area around which Granville, the earlier settlement that later became Vancouver, grew. Main and Hastings mark the former centre of downtown Vancouver with the old central public library (now Carnegie Centre) and the old City Hall. The intersection is now a local catchword for the drug abuse, homelessness, poverty, and prostitution once endemic in Downtown Eastside.
Originally Main Street was Westminster Avenue as it connected at East 7th Avenue to New Westminster Road, now Kingsway. Local merchants arranged to change the name in 1910 to what they thought would bestow a more cosmopolitan character to their neighbourhood. At one time, Main Street had a bascule bridge over False Creek, which then flowed to Clark Drive over a mile farther east. During the First World War, the Great Northern and the Canadian Northern Pacific railroads filled in and reclaimed that land for use, removed the bridge, and reconnected the previously bridged Main Street segments.
http://vancouver.ca/green-vancouver/mount-pleasant.aspx http://www.hillcrestcentre.com/default.aspx#.U8mATlZRHnc http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/mount-pleasant-community-plan.aspx
A recent Seattle Times article describes Vancouver’s mid-city Main Street as “certifiably hip” though a place “where women of a certain profession once worked the street corners in stilettos” but where now “explosive growth in the city” and relatively “cheap rent in this Mount Pleasant neighborhood in Southeast Vancouver” have brought in many “new boutiques, novelty shops and fancy restaurants.” According to the article, “Main Street was crime-infested 20 years ago, but that just meant cheap rent to starving artists and Asian immigrants who were looking for studio and restaurant space. They led the revitalization.”
The article concludes that “For all the concerns of gentrification, Main Street appears unremarkable with its worn storefront signs with missing letters and storefronts in need of a new coat of paint. They just all seem to blend into this street’s gritty roots and who-cares-what-outsiders-think attitude.”