Thursday, August 19, 2010

Red Lights

Take a little walk along E Pender. Head west and go until you pass Carrall Street. You will see this building.

Just past it is a very important sign.

This is a historical area in Chinatown. It is one of the first streets and was the center for the arts and merchants. I also read somewhere that there were a few bordellos here as well which would make sense because one of the main areas for the Red Light district wasn't far from here. It had the posh houses where lawyers, judges and other notables would go.

Look at how small this street is. It curves.

With all the people in there visiting shops etc it must have been a tight fit.

Another alley that veers off from Shanghai Alley is Canton Alley. Cute anecdote. I met up with a fellow who said it should have been called 'Shangri La Alley'.

In the middle of the curve in Shanghai Alley is a replica of a bell that was unearthed in China. The original is over two millenia old.

Also in the center of this curvy street are sign boards put up by Heritage Canada that pay tribute to the history of the area. I took a photo of what it used to look like. A photo of a photo.

Most of the buildings are new but there are two at the beginning of the alley that look dated.

Not too far over yet more than likely a world away from Shanghai and Canton Alley was another house of ill repute. This one is located at 504 Alexander Street.

This was a bordello but the reason it looks so good now, so austere and presentable is that, after the ladies of the night moved on, it became a hospital.

These restricted districts made many people uncomfortable. The madams would pay off the police for protection and things went uneasily along for a while. Then in 1906 The Daily Province newspaper did a probe and discovered the bribes. Chief Constable Sam North was fired for his part in the corruption. And then in 1910 there was an order to remove to red lights.

The funny thing is that prostitution is legal in Canada. However solicitation, owning or running a bawdy house, living off the earnings from prostitution are illegal. Interesting.

While walking along Alexander Street I happened to look up at one of the older buildings and got a start. It was misty rain and I had to blink to make sure this wasn't real.

The First United Church at 320 East Hastings Street has been there for 125 years. It helps those in need by providing meals, shelter and counselling. Until today I never notice the artwork at the top of the building.

It was an enlightening walk through the rain today. But now the sun has come out and everything is shiny again.

I hope you find the beauty around you.

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