Sep 2018 28

Vancouver Neighbourhood Photo Essays: Grandview-Woodland

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Before the first house was built in 1891, the Coast Salish knew the stretch of land along the Burrard Inlet by the name "Khupkhahpay’ay", meaning "cedar tree". Although logged beyond recognition and still a home to industry, the legendary trees can be seen all over the area. It's thanks to the logging and brewing industries, the latter of which is still represented, that Grand View—later Grandview-Woodland—became a popular destination for Vancouverites seeking a nice neighbourhood to settle down on the east side of the city. 

Views of the mountains to the north, and downtown to the west, gave rise to the moniker around 1892 by some of the very first modern residents. Not long after, what was Park Drive became Commercial Drive to attract businesses to the area. Influenced strongly by developing rail and transit, Grandview continued to grow and in 1975 built the Britannia Community Services Centre which was one of the largest in North America, and it's still a staple of the community today.

Known currently and affectionately as "The Drive", one of Vancouver's oldest areas is a thriving residential neighbourhood with a bustling main road offering everything from delicious pizza to board game bars to independent bookshops. Commercial Drive is the main attraction, stretching almost all the way from the shores of Burrard Inlet and extending far past the borders of Grandview. Adjacent to the shops and eateries of all kinds, are long tree-lined streets boasting an impressive number of historical, single-family homes and cottages. Rarer are the condominium complexes of the downtown core, and you will find far more parks and schools scattered around than high-rise apartment buildings. 

Between the water and East Hastings Street, the neighbourhood is packed full of craft microbreweries serving up anything from beer to local moonshine, alongside coffee shops, artist studios, and the important services such as the Vancouver Orphan Kitten Rescue, Aboriginal Mother Centre Society, and the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Society. Heading south, or "up", The Drive brings a spectrum of small, independent businesses, especially in what is known as Little Italy for the high number of pizza parlours, cafes, and pasta restaurants started by Italian immigrants after World War II. The area blends an old-world charm with its ever-growing population of trendier young professionals and new families which is reflected in hipster coffee shops, cocktail bars, and organic grocers. 

Now far more ethnically diverse and home to a range of communities, Grandview-Woodland represents a lot of what makes East Van the real hidden gem of greater Vancouver.


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