This is the best staircase in Vancouver


Last year I made THIS POST about what I viewed as the best stop sign in all of Vancouver, and it ignited a bit of a storm on our Facebook Page from people who clearly did not agree. It’s hard to rationalize with people who will see a headline and not read an article but then post an angry comment (we see this happen all the time), and in hindsight I basically set it up to bring heat; the blog post was basically a statement saying that the top sign was the best. The End. I should have explained why I thought it was the best.

I still think it’s the best, and would like to (finally) offer an explanation beyond “it just is”: it’s because it’s an anomaly. Like those apartments your friends rent for $500 (HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE) or the secret sandwich spot you go to where the owner greets you as if you were his kin. It’s these little things that make up a lot of the awesomeness in Vancouver. The fact that the City (with a capital C) has allowed a stop sign to be installed on a janky old cut down telephone pole instead of the standard steel ones you see is a tiny detail that I truly appreciate it. Every time I walk by it I smile because it’s a reminder that while things are constantly changing, some of our little quirks remain.


On a similar thread, when Woodwards was redeveloped a few years back, the architect Gregory Henriquez of HPA designed what I consider to be the best staircase in Vancouver. It’s in the public atrium there and it’s supposed to represent an umbilical cord. As the project was designed to breathe new life into the neighbourhood (and has taken its lumps along the way) this staircase was designed to represent new body heat, new birth. Part way up is the National Film Board’s office and if you go all the way to the top it leads to nowhere but a view of the atrium and the massive Stan Douglas installation picturing the Gastown riot, entitled Abbott & Cordova, 7 August 1971. Take that as a metaphor if you will. Or not.


Before I knew any of the backstory I simply thought this was a beautiful structure. And I still do. Have you got a favourite staircase in Vancouver? When I shared “the best stop sign” you SHARED a bunch of your photos of the ones you liked, and I’d love to share your staircase photos so I can post a gallery of them here. Email them to me at contact at