Friday, March 15, 2013

Freedom and Talkies

This home at 2427 Franklin Street, has stood here since 1909.

World War I was over and there was a new attitude in the air. There was freedom, money being made and happy days. Women had shorter hair, and shorter skirts, and they had found a new sense of independence. During the war, they had gone to work in jobs held previously only by men. And these ladies had proven they could do it.

Vancouver saw a new age of expansion and progress. The stock market was helping the rich get richer while the newly opened Panama Canal - in addition to a dramatic increase in wheat exports - boosted shipping activities in Vancouver's port. During the years between 1921 and 1929, the total exports for the city quadrupled.

This green house, built in 1912, is at 2435 Franklin Street.

During this decade, Vancouver also started becoming more industrialized. Hundreds of small factories were started and helped to put to work those who were unemployed after the war.

The city started expanding, absorbing the suburbs of South Vancouver and Point Grey.  The population rose to almost 250,000 by the end of the decade.

This was also a decade of technological advances. By the end of the twenties, seventy percent of the homes in Canada had electricity. Electric irons and vacuum cleaners created more free time and something had to fill in the gap. The radio stepped in to accomplish this task as thousands of families across the city tuned in to American radio shows.

The latest house can be seen at 1847 Venables and dates back to 1910.

The biggest freedom though came from the automobile. In 1920, Vancouver recorded 650 cars. It only took ten years for the number to balloon to 36,500. Our first drive-in restaurant, The White Spot, catered to this craze. (I wrote on The White Spot and how it got started when I wrote on Nat Bailey, the company's founder.) In 1928, the first traffic light was installed downtown.

With the added free time, it was also time to go out on the town. The Pantages Theatre on Hastings brought in Duke Ellington and vaudeville acts. However, it was the 'talkies' that had everyone, well, talking. The first talking picture Mother Knows Best, was screened at the Capital on Granville in 1928. This area would become known a\s Vancouver's Theatre Row. In 1927, the Orpheum opened and it brought in stars like Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson. There were also ritzy places to eat like the Chanticleer Cafe or the Love's Grill.

(Guess what? I have written on the Orpheum Theatre as well.)

This photo I found at the Vancouver Public Library Online collection. The studio credited with taking it is the Dominion Photo Co. If you look to the one side, just behind the car there, it looks like that could be the Chanticleer Cafe. 

Thanks goes to Bob_2006 for the information on the houses and to Aynsley Vogel and Dana Wyse and Vancouver, A History in Photographs for the information on the 1920s.

Monday, I will look more at this precious decade in this history and until then I hope you find the beauty around you.

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