Monday, July 23, 2012


Built in 1913, this is 2235 Commercial Drive.

In 1902, Commercial Drive was known as Park Drive since it led to Clark Park, which at that time marked Vancouver's southern border.

H.V. Edmonds, Mayor David Oppenheimer and others started the Vancouver-New Westminster Interurban railway and this street was part of it. The rail line generated so much traffic that South Vancouver merged Cedar Cottage Road, Edmund Street and Norfolk Road into Commercial Street in 1910.

The city was anticipating a business boom in this area. In 1911, the street's name changed from Park to Commercial Drive. Yet, even then, it was known simply as "The Drive". Over the years the street has become more successfully commercialized.

In 1982, there was a proposal to rename the street Via Garibaldi in recognition of the area's Italian population and honoring the revolutionary patriot Giusseppe Garibaldi. However, due to the expense, the idea was quashed. As well, there is a Garibaldi Drive in Champlain Heights.

I live in this area and I know first had that "The Drive" is a magnet for our city's counter cultural activity, political statements, unique shops and restaurants. If you go for a walk along Commercial Drive, you will see panhandlers, artists displaying their wares, second hand merchandise spread out and being sold. There is money here and there is poverty.
Commercial Drive is in the Grandview district of Vancouver. The story of how this area got the name is that in 1892 a resident stuck a sign saying "Grand View" at the interurban stop nearest his home at Commercial and First. And there are some great views in this area.

Thanks to the extensive logging of the area's forest - beginning in 1871 - a view to False Creek, which at that time reached today's Clark Drive, could be seen. Today, the downtown core of Vancouver shines brightly on a sunny day.

This little village grew quickly when the interurban line to New Westminster was completed in 1892. Its main growth happened after Professor Edward Odlum built his home on Grant in 1904.

Other large homes were built around here and it looked like this was going to be an upscale neighborhood. But the grandiose visions for Grandview were crushed when the CPR invested $2 million in making Shaughnessy the place to be. So Grandview became a middle class area. 

In the years after World War II, Vancouver's Italian population left the area around Union Street and settled in Grandview, giving the area the nickname "Little Italy".

Thanks to Tom Snyders and Jennifer O'Rourke and the book Namely Vancouver for the information on the street names. And to Bob_2006 at for information on the building.

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