In the Neon Glow of Granville Street


When Fred Herzog hung out on Granville Street in the late fifties, it was one of those ballsy main streets that people most often associate with film noir and hard-boiled detective stories. The view down Granville from Robson Street revealed a seemingly endless procession of classic neon signs, their soft glow a welcome sign of colour and warmth in the Pacific drizzle. Granville’s slow decline into sleaze mirrored that of many other Great White Ways, not the least of which was the original Great White Way itself, Times Square.

In the late 1990s, when Vancouver city planners were looking for ways to revitalize Granville, they sought inspiration from its own past. Teaming up with heritage activists and business owners, the city ambitiously promoted the restoration of vintage neon signs. More modern forms of glitz and illumination were added, like the giant video screens on a new retail complex at the corner of Robson. Granville has since been revived as an entertainment centre were bars are allowed to stay open until 4am.

Although you’d expect this to homogenize the street, turning it into just a cheesy collection of bad bars, Starbucks and Urban Outfitters, Granville’s gritty character has proven tenacious. For all of that hard scrubbing, there’s still a lot of dirt left behind the ears.


This entry was written by Christopher DeWolf , posted on Tuesday March 06 2007at 07:03 pm , filed under Canada and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

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