Cruising the Downtown Streets

Only a few more days for downtown Vancouver living and then we move to our temporary digs at 47th and Main for August. Since the day was beautiful, and I managed to get my chores done early, I decided to head out on my bike and document the changing downtown scene. Every couple of months or so I like to photograph the metamorphosis of graffiti and architecture in my neighborhood – it’s always interesting to see what the street philosophers have been commenting on …

I was surprised to see that what had been a vacant parking lot just one month earlier when we rolled through here on our Friday night bike/skate was now an inner city urban garden run by Sole Food Garden. Right next to the Astoria Hotel at Hastings and Hawks, the urban garden looked fabulous and is growing food to feed the Downtown Eastside. What a great idea!

From the VanCity website, here’s more information on this project:

“The former parking lot next to the Astoria Hotel on East Hastings Street in Vancouver is attracting a lot of attention. That’s probably because it’s filled with raised garden beds, plants and hard-working Downtown Eastside gardeners. This is the central location of SOLEfood (Save our Living Environment), an outstanding enterprise making a difference in the lives of many people.

SOLEfood farm is a not-for-profit social enterprise providing urban agriculture employment and training opportunities for Vancouver’s inner-city residents. They produce and sell an organically grown selection of healthy, delicious produce including spinach, kale, peppers and tomatoes. It is the brainchild of the people involved in United We Can, whose most familiar enterprise is The United We Can Bottle Depot.”

Read more about the Sole Food Farm here and here.

Strathcona, Vancouver’s oldest neighborhood, is undergoing a process of gentrification; every time we ride through here more of the older houses are being renovated for upscale urbanites, displacing the artists and lower income folk who made this place the great community it is. Most of the houses here were built at the turn of the century and housed the large families of that day. Many are being broken up into smaller units to house today’s homeowners.

One of my artist friends Torrie, recently come back to Vancouver from San Francisco, purchased an old church on Prior Street and is now fixing it up as a live/work studio space for herself and her family. It’s a beautiful building and will make a wonderful artist’s space.

Read information about Torrie’s work here and here.

Each section of the neighborhood has its own corner store/coffee shop; one of the best is the Union Street on the bikeway from downtown to the East Side. I stopped here for a cappuccino briefy then rolled past a labyrinth and back around through the downtown core alleyways.

The graffiti wall paintings have changed once again since I last photographed them a couple of months ago. Here’s a sample:

On my way back to the ranch I stopped in at the Contemporary Gallery at Nelson and Richards to see the Shary Boyle show – great stuff! Porcelain sculptures and peculiar 2D works – surrealism with a fairy-tale edge.

Read more about Shary Boyle’s work here and here.

I love living in downtown Vancouver and will miss it while we’re on the road.

See more pictures here.

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