Vancouver 2

Vancouver Art Deco Buildings 5: Vancouver City Hall

Vancouver City Hall is a stepped tower like a giant Mayan temple.

Vancouver City Hall, constructed in 1936, was designed by the architectural firm of Townley and Matheson. It features an elegant, tiered appearance, a stepped in mini-skyscraper which reaches 12 storeys. A decision was made to shift City Hall away from the city centre and so it is located at West 12th Avenue at Cambie Street. Aside from its classic form derived from pre-Columbian architecture there is a large, stone relief above the main entrance. There are also simple Art Deco motifs present on the façade which consist of a wing and a spiral together.

A relief on the building depicting Vancouver City Hall.
Two veersions of the wing and spiral motif.

Vancouver Art Deco Buildings 6: Vogue Theatre

The goddess atop the Vogue’s tower.

The 1940 Vogue Theatre was designed by Toronto-based architects Kaplan and Sprachman. Their client was George C. Reifel, who was known as a brewer in Vancouver, and legend has it that during prohibition he was also a rum-runner. The Vogue Theatre was originally constructed as a cinema, but in more recent times has been used as a live venue. Located on Granville Street on Vancouver’s “Theatre Row” it is an elegant, symmetrical streamlined Art Deco building topped by the figure of the ancient Roman goddess of the hunt Diana. In 1990 the Vogue was listed as a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Vogue Theatre’s façade on Granville Street
Other Art Deco motifs on the Vogue Theatre.

Vancouver Art Deco Buildings 7: Empire Granville 7 Cinemas

A relief of a dancer on the exterior of the cinema.

Another Art Deco cinema, this time a theatre in its initial incarnation as the Globe Theatre, was constructed 1912-1913 on Granville Street. It was modified into an Art Deco building known as the Paradise Theatre in 1938 by the architect Thomas Kerr. The Paradise was modified into a cinema and renamed the Coronet Cinema in 1965. Its interior was further renovated in 1986 and renamed the Empire Granville 7 Cinemas, but the exterior is still essentially that of the Paradise Theatre with its distinctive, sculpted motif of a dancer. Unlike the Vogue, the Paradise has no listing as a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Granville Street façade of the Empire Granville 7 Cinemas.

Vancouver Art Deco Buildings 8: Lions Gate Bridge

A lion at the entrance to the Lions Gate Bridge.

Majestically traversing the waters between central Vancouver through Stanley Park and over to the communities of the North Shore, the Lions Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge with three lanes for crossing traffic. The Art Deco lions of the Lions Gate Bridge are on either side of the southern approach. They are monumental beasts made of cast concrete and were created by Italian-born Vancouver sculptor Charles Marega at the end of the 1930s. The heads and bodies were cast separately. They are old world lions and have wonderful jagged manes. Sadly, Marega passed away just a short time before the official opening of the bridge on May 29, 1939 by King George VI during a royal visit.

The Lions Gate Bridge features larger than life sized sculpted lions.

Vancouver Art Deco Buildings 9: Burrard Bridge

One of two identical Art Deco structures on Burrard Bridge.

On the other side of central Vancouver, connecting it with the western suburbs of Kitsilano and Point Gray, is the 1932 Burrard Street Bridge, often abbreviated to just the Burrard Bridge. This is a steel truss bridge with space for four lanes of traffic. Its span is less than that of the Lions Gate Bridge but it has two covered crossings that have excellent Art Deco details on them, all of which were also created by Charles Marega. Among them are some evenly spaced lion heads, four along each upper space of the crossings, totalling sixteen. These are also old world lions, but their manes have been clipped down to almost nothing in contrast to the Lions Gate Bridge pair.

A Burrard Bridge lion’s head.

Vancouver Art Deco Buildings 10: Labour Temple of the Trade Labour Congress

The Labour Temple of the Trade Labour Congress.

This 1949 two-storey building on East Broadway is not massive, however, proportionally the stone relief mural above its entrance certainly is. At six feet high and thirty feet long it was entirely created by British Columbia born sculptor Beatrice Lennie and took her eight months to complete. The main theme of this work is raising labour to a heroic status. It also was intended to show solidarity between the Canadian Trade Labour Congress, the TLC, on the left, and the American Federation of Labour, the AFL, on the right. There is a sub-theme of transport with planes, parachutists descending and a zeppelin, along with a ship and a streamlined steam train.

Beatrice Lennie’s remarkable sculpture.
The Canadian side of the mural.
The riveter and others at work on the the Trade Labour Congress sculpture.

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