downtown eastside, Vancouver

And now, the Vancouver a world away from the mountain and water views, and the sparkling towers of Yaletown. . .

This has been Skid Row as long as I can remember, the area clustered at Main and Hastings, sandwiched between Gastown and Chinatown. The buildings are reminiscent of the grand past of the region, before downtown drifted west, and the area hasn’t recovered. The statistics are shocking enough: Canada’s poorest postal code, a virtual drug mart at Main and Hastings, a 30 % HIV infection rate, dilapidated residential hotels, and a threatening feel to the area. All of this with the siren view of the snowcapped North Shore mountains. . .

But there remains a certain poetry and nostalgia to the place, with the beautiful brick structures and the vintage neon signs still gracing the neighborhood, mixed in with the Dickensian drama of everyday life.

 

Hastings St., once grand

Hastings St., once grand

 

The Ovaltine Cafe, cheap grub, and nifty neon, since 1943

The Ovaltine Cafe, cheap grub, and nifty neon, since 1943

 

The notorious Cobalt Motor Hotel, just south of the viaduct

The notorious Cobalt Motor Hotel, just south of the viaduct

 

Lone survivor on Main St.

Lone survivor on Main St.

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