This past week Vancouver lost yet another historic building, the Pantages Theater. Built in 1907/08, The Pantages Theater was the oldest surviving theater on the West Coast and the first theater built by Alexander Pantages. To lose this historic building, although you can't tell now because of the 20 years of dis-repair, is indeed tragic. The exterior wasn't always red, but it was office plain following the trend at the time. I've never seen the interior, nor have many people in the last 20 years, but this is what the Heritage Vancouver Society has to say about it:
The interior of this unique building is wonderful, with superb acoustics. Designed in an era when theatre design was going through a transformation, the Pantages exhibits a much simpler decoration scheme than later theatres. Original plaster decoration remains, including three-dimensional musical instruments and a Pantages "P" shield logo above the stage, considerable amounts of scroll work, and the initials of Mr. Pantages, the theatre's owner, within other scroll elements. The proscenium was originally surrounded by flame-shaped light bulbs, with the original sockets still in place. Original scenic paintings on canvas, along with stenciled scrollwork still exists covering the side walls, but currently can only be seen when newer plain wall coverings were pulled back to reveal these original elements.
How did this happen? How come I didn't know that this was even an issue? I know how, lack of awareness. Not in the sense that I personally am not aware of my surroundings, but in the sense that it was quietly swept under the rug. Sure, it's on East Hastings Street and the area is as you see it above, but when you go south to San Francisco, you don't see this terrible attitude toward history. Even after a major earthquake and a huge economic depression, history is intact.
I'm not a Vancouver native and I do not identify with this addiction problem. This may be ironic seeing as how 100% of the projects I have worked on in the last year were renovations. It may be because I grew up in a small town called Steinbach, south-east of Winnipeg, and we had a major Mennonite Heritage Village Museum. History surrounded us, and when the windmill burnt to the ground, accident or arson, it was re-built and stands proud again today.
It is evidently apparent Mayor Gregor and his council do not think that historic restoration can fall into Vancouver's urban plan of eco-density and being called the "Green City". In addition, revitalization of the Downtown East Side does not mean that we demolish buildings, but work with building owners to improve and repair to integrate a hip and funky neighborhoods once again, with more jobs, car-free zones, farmers markets, and local grass-roots businesses. That is truly green. Vancouver may be visually green 98% of the year (2% snow), but this is a disgusting display of the type of lazy attitude that Vancouverites have towards anything in particular.
Yes, it is a nasty addiction and one that's hard to shake.
And another thing! VANCOUVER may tow the ecological, bike friendly, holistic, yoga loving, nature hiking line, but when it comes down to it, Vancouver just doesn't care.