Monday, November 17, 2014

Welcome to my Neighbourhood - Commercial Drive

Today I am starting something new. Sometimes I will take a walk through a neighbourhood, take photos then tell you a bit about that area. The first area I chose is Commercial Drive. Probably because it is close and I didn't have to walk far. Some of the information I am going to relate, I will have already told you but there will new stuff too.

We are starting our journey on the north end - at Commercial Drive and E Hastings Street. Commercial Drive does extend north past this intersection but for this feature, we aren't going to cover that.

Originally, this area was the skid road on which logs were dragged to the harbour. In 1902, its name was Park Drive because it led to Clark Park - the southern border of Vancouver.
This lot has been vacant the entire time I have lived in this area and that is almost 11 years! I wonder if they will ever build anything there? Probably housing, Vancouver needs a lot of that right now. The building in the photo below is empty and borders the lot, which leads to me guess we might see townhouses or condos built there in the near future.

Older homes along the Drive.

This street was part of the Vancouver-New Westminster Interurban Railway route, which was started by H.V. Edmonds and Mayor David Oppenheimer, among others. The rail line generated a lot of traffic so South Vancouver merged Cedar Cottage Road, Edmund Street and Norfolk Road into Commercial Street in 1910 because they were anticipating a big business boom. (Commercial Street is separate from Commercial Drive) 

Nick's Spaghetti House, reportedly the best pasta in Vancouver.

In 1911, the name of the street changed from Park Drive to Commercial Drive and even back then, it was referred to as 'The Drive', which many people still call it.

There was a proposal in 1982 to rename The Drive, Via Garibaldi in recognition of the large Italian population in this area. The name would also honour the revolutionary patriot, Giusseppe Garibaldi. That idea was quashed due to the cost involved and that fact that there is a street named Garibaldi Drive in the Champlain Heights district of Vancouver.

At one time, there were four streets in Vancouver with the name Park. Now there is only one, in Marpole.

Next door to Nick's is the York Theatre. This theatre has recently been revamped since it was an eyesore for many years before. It has a lot of history though, which I wrote about in a 2010 entry.

Before World War I, there were a group of speculators who attempted to turn the Grandview area - the district that surrounds The Drive - into a real estate area comparable with the West End or Shaughnessy. That idea crumbled with the global financial collapse of 1913.

During the 1920s, this area was a prosperous suburb and not far from the centre of town, Main and Hastings, but the Great Depression changed all that. In addition, the centre of town moved further west. But the area has been left with a large number of historical buildings and homes.

Adanac - a bike friendly street. Want to know how that name came to be?  Spell it backwards!

 Lost on The Drive? Perhaps one of these information stands will help.
 The number 20 bus runs along Commercial Drive.

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of my neighbourhood. I have lots more photos and stories to tell you.

Thanks to the book Namely Vancouver by Tom Snyders and Jennifer O'Rourke for some of the information above as well as Wikipedia for other facts.

I hope you find the beauty around you.


  1. Thanx, I used to be a regular at Nick's, from early 70s to late 80s. Then I moved to West End.