Less than 100 years ago the False Creek and Fairview Slopes area were a forest of huge fir trees. Fairview was named in 1886 by CPR Land Commissioner L.A. Hamilton. Hamilton's survey established the numbered system of east-west avenues and named the cross streets after trees.
In 1887, the CPR, at the request of Vancouver City Council, agreed to locate its Pacific terminal yards on the north side of the Creek. The forest was replaced-by shipbuilding yards, sawmills, shingle mills, and various woodworking plants. In 1916, Granville Island was created from soil dredged from False Creek.
In 1928, the CPR and the provincial government swapped land to give each consolidated holdings, the CPR on the north side and the province on the south side. Another land swap in 1968, through which the City acquired the land from the province, prepared the way for the present residential and recreational development and marked the beginning of another transformation.
Fairview Slopes, which overlooks False Creek from the south, began to develop following the construction of the Fairview Beltline (a streetcar loop built from downtown through Fairview along Broadway) and the opening of the Granville and Cambie Street bridges. In 1902, the City purchased 5.5 acres (two city blocks) from the CPR for $5,500 for a new hospital at 10th Avenue and Heather Street. Land was in demand for residential development during these years and a number of substantive homes were built in the area.
From the early 1920s to the early 1960s, Fairview Slopes was zoned for 3 storey apartments and throughout the 1950s, the area south of Broadway developed as an apartment district. Broadway, as well as Granville and Cambie Streets, became important neighbourhood commercial strips. At the same time, the Slopes were rezoned to industrial use, and some houses were replaced with small industries.
The 1970s were a time of dramatic change for both False Creek and Fairview Slopes. Based on the recommendations by citizens, two advisory review panels, and City staff, policies which laid out guidelines for redeveloping False Creek were adopted by City Council in 1973. The new City policy required a range of housing to provide a social mix that reflected the City's income and social composition. The City also decided to keep ownership of most of South False Creek.
Concurrent with the planning for South False Creek, plans to redevelop Granville Island were also being considered. In 1972, administration for the 15 hectare (37 acres) island, was transferred from the National Harbours Board to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and a movement to rejuvenate the site started to gain momentum. Early in 1976 the Granville Island Trust was formed to advise on the Island's future. The first phase of the Island's redevelopment, the Public Market, opened in 1979, soon followed by the Maritime Market, Emily Carr College of Art, theatres, artist's studios, craft galleries and restaurants.
As the City's plans for False Creek took shape, pressure arose to redevelop the Slopes for high density uses. The area was rezoned in 1972 from industrial to residential/commercial. Fairview Heights, a small fifteen-block area extending south of Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre (formerly Vancouver General Hospital), was rezoned in 1984 from a duplex to a low-rise apartment zone. Since then the area has been extensively redeveloped providing additional housing opportunities for those employed in the downtown core and with Vancouver Hospital.
Hodson Manor is one of the oldest surviving houses in Fairview. Built in 1894 for Vancouver Ice and Cold Storage Company founder Captain James Logan, the home was moved two blocks in 1974. Today, the city-owned building, at 1254 West 7th Avenue, is used as a meeting place for non-profit societies.
The Seaforth Armoury on Burrard Street was built in 1935/36 to house the Seaforth Highlanders. Some of the drill hall's design features include stepped gables, round towers, cast thistle and finials.
Other notable heritage buildings include the James England House, at 2300 Birch, and the 1889 Fairview House, built at 1151 West 8th Avenue for Sir John and Lady Reid. The 1929 Dick Building and the Stanley Theatre, are both local landmarks located on Granville Street. Nearby, the 1912 Chalmers United Church sits at 2801 Hemlock Street.
City Square Mall is an example of the adaptive reuse of heritage buildings. In this case, the 1905 Model School and the 1908 Provincial Normal School were incorporated into a new shopping mall.
For detailed information on heritage buildings in this area, and in Vancouver generally, visit City of Vancouver Heritage.
Additional information is available through the City of Vancouver Archives.