Thursday, March 12, 2015

Vancouver's East End - Diversity and Inspiration

A building wall is just a wall, except when it's ART. . .

Murals of Vancouver, Street Art photo by DG Hudson


When I first moved to Vancouver, I lived in the residential East End of town, near Commercial. At the time, numerous Italian delis and many families of European descent populated the area.  You could smell the fermenting grapes as you walked down the alleyways. It's now considered one of the more culturally diverse areas of the city and a transfer point for Skytrain routes. 

Trout Lake, John Hendry Park, Vanc'r, by Iota 9 at English Wikipedia


Old Italian men used to monopolize the park benches while discussing politics and watching the young girls as they walked by. Trout lake, in nearby John Hendry Park, was a peaceful place, meant more for fishing derbies than actual swimming. I spent many an afternoon there, sketching the elegant birch trees by the edge.

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City Murals, Vancouver's East Side, by DG Hudson


East Vancouver goes by several names: East Van, East Side, or the East End. This area is not the same as the 'Downtown Eastside', which is a different area with its own history, not covered in this post. East Van is the sum of its diverse parts defined by family income, ethnicity, life styles and language. There is a vibrant art community, a burgeoning microbrewery enclave, and many vocal gender identity groups in this area.

Interesting artistic events which take place in East Van: the Eastside Culture Crawl, East of Main-community poetry, The Drift - an annual art presentation event centred around Main Street, and the well-known Vancouver East Cultural Centre, a venerable old theatre where I've seen a few special events.

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Italian immigrants created the first "Little Italy" in the Main Street area by 1910 and the Commercial Drive area in the 1950s.  In this latter area, Italian businesses and residents are still plentiful.  An Italian Cultural Centre was built on the Grandview Highway in the 1970s.  In later decades, I attended work luncheons at Dario's, a upscale restaurant in the Centre, and attended a reading by the poet Allan Ginsberg in the main hall. Ginsberg was a compatriot of Jack Kerouac.

Further back in the history of this area, there were aboriginal peoples living here around 500 BC. The first European settlement in 1865 was in an area now known as Strathcona. John Hendry Park, which contained the Trout Lake mentioned above, was created in 1926 to prevent it becoming a municipal dump. This happened because of the generosity of a benefactor, Mrs. Aldene Hamber, who donated the property to the city.

Other Facts:

1971 - Chinatown and East Vancouver were protected from proposed massive freeway projects by regulations and public outcry.

1986 - Vancouver hosted a World's Fair - Expo 86, using the old rail yard property at False Creek. Following this event and after the removal of the train yards, the area began to experience a renewal as residential densification began.  Old warehouses were either renovated or replaced with newer buildings.

Commercial Drive, also called The Drive, continues to rank high with the city residents in general, claiming many 'best' titles. A walk down the street reveals many outdoor cafés and eateries, as well as antique stores. This is a walkable community with many skaters/boarders and bicyclists as well.
 
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Vancouver Bistro, WC image


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Have you an area similar to this in your town or city? What is it called?  Do you have a community that has undergone 'gentrification' to revive a dilapidated area? Is your town walkable?

 Please leave a comment to let me know you stopped by. I'm wearing several 'hats' at the moment, so I may seem invisible. I'm not, but I am scarce while working on some posts for the venerable A to Z Blog Challenge.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_Vancouver

Image of Trout Lake

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license
Attribution: Iota 9 at English Wikipedia

24 comments:

  1. Art community and breweries - great combination.
    The murals are cool. Adds to the personality of that part of the city.

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    1. I agree, and one of our daughters lives in that area. I love outdoor murals on buildings, and this part of the city encourages them. Thanks for visiting, Alex!

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  2. Didn't see East Van the one and only time I got up there. I got 2 vacations a year and I always wanted to go to Victoria plus the obligatory visit back east. I should have gone back to Vancouver. Kicking myself.

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    1. East Van has had a revitalization and is more interesting now than when I lived there, but it always has had a 'funky' tone about it. Used to go see underground art movies at a theatre there. One day I'd like to see the area you live in, JoJo.

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  3. When I was there a couple of years ago, I wanted so badly to visit the Chinatown area and the garden there. Just didn't have the time. It's great that you live in such a culturally diverse city. :)

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    1. Just wanted to share my reasons for loving the big city (aside from the lineups, traffic, and high real estate prices).

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  4. Vancouver sounds like a beautiful, interesting, and alive city. So you are doing the A to Z ahead of time too. I think everyone is this year. I thought I was doing books, but that would have required some preparation ahead of time, which takes the challenge out of it for me. So now I will either do nothing, or just start on April 1 and see where it leads me. I have of course no idea of where we will be then either, so I may have to skip the whole thing.

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    1. Since I've been so slow blogging, I thought it would help to do the A to Z. I need the writing time as it's something that takes me out of my problems. I like researching and I have some interesting subjects for this one. . .Just do what you can Inger. You're good at winging it!

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  5. D.G. you've taken me for a walk in my neighbourhood. I'm a hop skip and jump from The Drive - there once a week on a bread run for mother. Love it!

    I grew up a block of Main Street, my father still lives in the family house so I'm a frequent visitor to that neighbourhood too. There's a great Thai restaurant, Sawasdee, at Main and 27th - best in the city. I'm there about once a month - soooo good.

    Well, that was fun! Time for that long overdue coffee - maybe on The Drive, or Main Street to relive a few memories!

    Cheers, Jenny xxoo

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    1. Glad to hear that Jenny, it's fun to generate memories for myself and others. Vancouver is my kind of town. I said that when I first saw it. We were picking dandelions for dandelion wine one time near John Hendry Park and the police asked us what we were doing. After we told them what and why (mother in law was with us too) they compared recipes!

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    2. That's funny! But it does happen, I've had very pleasant encounters with law enforcement in my area. Amiable, friendly, helpful. Not anything like what we read about.

      How was the wine?

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    3. The Dandelion wine was most excellent. Took some to art school and we had a French style picnic with cheese, bread, etc. It has a fruity white wine flavor, that improves if you can let it sit longer. You add raisins, oranges and lemons to the mix while it's fermenting. Only the dandelion heads are used to give it a golden color.

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  6. Hi DG,

    The street art looks vibrant! Your post reminded me of the graffiti in Cairo just after 2011. Leaving a link here that I enjoyed..For you to go through when you are less stressed/pressed for time, which I hope will be soon. :)
    https://suzeeinthecity.wordpress.com/tag/cairo-street-art/
    Looking forward to your posts in the A-Z.
    Best always,
    Nila.

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    1. I will check that link later today. Your reference is a good enough reason for me. I do like street art too, we have a book on Paris underground graffiti. Hope to drop by your blog soon as well.

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  7. Hi DG - only had a brief stop-over in Vancouver .. but I must get back for longer next time. The areas sound really interesting ... our town isn't big enough for cultural areas - though quite a lot goes on ..

    Glad you'll be doing the A-Z - it'll be fun to see your postings ... have a good week - and good luck with all things - cheers Hilary

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    1. I grew up in a small town, and had to find myself in a big city, Hilary. I like the fact of more choices, more activity and the beauty of the coast here in British Columbia. Let me know if you ever drop in to Vancouver again.

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  8. Looks like a beautiful neighborhood. And craft beer? Be still my heart.

    We have the Denver Art District here, which features much of the same - art galleries, beautiful murals, and craft beer galore. Great place to spend an afternoon.

    http://mediad.publicbroadcasting.net/p/kunc/files/201410/6875522004_992353dfbe_k.jpg

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    1. I'm going to check that link today, ABFTS, as I like seeing other places with interesting neighborhoods. I am always drawn to the art districts. . .and the craft beer would be the foam on the mix. It's like the wine in France, small batches can be better than quantity production.

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  9. Hi D.G.

    Great pics of the murals and a very interesting history. No, Brisbane doesn't have such a place, but West End, the avant garde suburb where I live is undergoing gentrification. Not all good news as it has unique architecture of the 1880s.

    Best wishes to you and your hubs.

    Denise :-)

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    1. There are public protests here in the other east area: Downtown Eastside as low income groups don't want to be run out of the area. It's not the safest place to venture, either, especially at night.

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  10. I'm trying to recall all of the places I've lived and consider them for walkability. I think the town I went to college in, Holland, Michigan, had some walkability to it. Lord knows I did a lot of walking. But, it isn't like your The Drive. I lived in NYC and it's immensely walkable. However, you can walk from a perfectly fine neighborhood and in one block feel like you're at risk for a stabbing. So, I don't recommend just blithely walking around. That doesn't just apply to night time, though especially at night.

    I currently live in Jacksonville. It's the largest city in the US (in terms of square miles). I can't think of one "walkable" place in the city. Well, there is Riverside. The downtown has a quaint feel to it. But downtown... no. Most places, no. Jax has nearly one hit and run every day. Usually involving a biker or pedestrian (emphasis on the latter)... I don't consider that walk friendly.

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    1. I've only passed through Jacksonville, Robin, and went to the beaches there as a child. Seems one of the side effects of growth in a city is the motley mix of good and not so good areas. We even found this true in parts of Montmartre in Paris.

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  11. Nice shots, DG. I like murals, and we have an area under the Coronado Bridge that showcases Latino art: Chicano Park. I'm not a fan of graffiti, even though some call it art.

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    1. Thanks, Milo! If graffiti is just tags and scribbles that we see most, I don't call it art either. If there are recognizable visuals, I might. In Paris and some cities, even on some rail cars, you can see some distinctive drawings. I love murals which show the flavor of a community, without the 'I was here' signing wall effect.

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