May 2016 – Our trip across the country was structured with locations and dates. We needed to arrive in Vancouver for the last week in May. Our temporary home was an apartment hotel on Alberni Street near Thurlow Street. As Jim was busy with meetings one of the days I was left to explore my surroundings. Downtown Vancouver is a skyline of glass high rises – office buildings and apartments.
Robson Street, just around the corner from our hotel is a hub of commerce with high end stores and restaurants. The corner of Robson and Thurlow Streets an interesting building caught my attention. As I looked above the line of pedestrian canopy and storefronts the building was brick with bay windows, heavy with trim, a distinct cornice line with detailed corbels. I snapped a picture above the trees and headed on my day of exploration.
The building the Manhattan Apartments, I discovered played a part in Vancouver’s urban history. The building built in the early 1900 was a series of apartment buildings built along Robson Street, on the streetcar line. It is listed as the first Vancouver apartment building made of brick and at six storeys was one of the first skyscrapers in the city.
One of the original residents is quoted in the newspaper as saying “It was the apartment of its day. Among the innovative design features were light wells, an electric elevator and a rooftop restaurant with full-height windows on all sides for a 360-degree view.”
In the late 1970’s it was saved from demolition by the Manhattan Housing Co-operative. The apartment building in 1989 was part of the the movie set in the movie “Look Who’s Talking.”
A residential address, a place to be seen dining, a hippie hangout, an anti-demolition protestors’ squatting grounds – the Manhattan Building at Robson and Thurlow has had an interesting history.