Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hastings Hotels

Today I was going to follow a suggestion from a reader of my blog but I didn't make it. I started and then the heat began to bother me. One of the drawbacks of having MS is that the heat can sometimes really affect me. So I will do that journey another time.

Have no fear my loyal readers. I wouldn't come home without pictures and a story.

The hotels on Hastings must have stories galore to tell. Although the buildings look old and non descript now can you imagine what they must have been like in their glory days? If you look at the neon signage and think of years past  you know that at one time these places must have been majestic.

The Hotel Patricia opened in 1914 and at that time there was a stable where the parking lot is today. It has had quite the colorful history. At one time the bar used to be a favorite hang out for the Swedish lumberjacks who came to Vancouver on their days off. They would polish off bottles of whiskey and then fight. Being a bouncer at the Patricia Cafe - now Pat's Pub - must have been interesting to say the least.

In the 1920s the Hotel Patricia was home to one of the giants of American Jazz, Ferdinand "Jelly Roll" Morton and today is a place for the up and coming greats to perfect their craft.

The Balmoral looks like it was once glorious but the only news I could find on it now was fairly negative. So I'll just try to imagine it like it was.

The Hotel Empress, not to be confused with the Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, was once the world's tallest, narrowest hotel. It has gone through it's rough times but according to what I read seems to be coming back as a clean, reasonably priced place for local citizens to enjoy.

I had to take this photo. Have you ever watched 'DaVinci's Inquest'? The characters often went to the Ovaltine Cafe, below the Afton Hotel.

This next place isn't a hotel but it deserves mention.
The Carnegie Community Centre at the corner of Main Street and Hastings. In 1901 Vancouver requested $50,000 from Andrew Carnegie to build a library. Carnegie agreed as long as the city put up the land and paid $5,000 a year to maintain the building. In 1903 the library opened with the Vancouver Museum at the upper level.

In 1957 the Vancouver Library needed more room and moved. Unfortunately this majestic building fell into disrepair. Fortunately in the 1980s local activists convinced the city to turn it into a public area. It has been restored to its former beauty with the spiral staircase that has granite steps; the stain glass windows on the landing and the decorative floors on the lower level. Carnegie has also been reworked so that it has a low priced cafeteria, recreation, a branch of the library and numerous other services that assist those in need that frequent the centre.

This area of Hastings has earned a negative reputation over the years and it is well deserved. From a hunting ground for a serial killer whose prey were the drug addicted prostitutes to the poorest postal code in Canada, the section of town has slipped far below the grand area it used to be. Yet when I look at these buildings and do a little research I can still the glory that was once there. I can imagine what it must have been like all those years ago. Maybe even see a ghost or two dancing the night away.

Here's to finding the beauty around you.

TAGS:, , , ,,,,,

No comments:

Post a Comment