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13 historic photos that show downtown Vancouver over 120 years ago

Granville and West Georgia has changed a lot.

Downtown Vancouver is famous for its gleaming towers of glass, concrete, and steel.

That's a relatively recent development, as anyone who's lived here a few decades can attest to. However, to anyone alive nowadays, the downtown core has always been a busy, vibrant city with paved streets, electric lights and filled with homes and businesses.

These photos are from a period just a bit before that. Founded in 1886, Vancouver only had about 26,000 residents by 1901. For the settlers who came from Europe and Asia, it was a distant land not nearly as developed as places in Eastern Canada, the US or other areas.

At the same time, what is now downtown wasn't the city's core at first, that was further east in Gastown. And for quite awhile New Westminster and Victoria were larger towns.

These photos from the 1880s to early 1900s show how fast Vancouver's downtown grew.

In about less than 20 years the land that is now the intersection of West Georgia and Granville Street went from a nearly unusable area where a towering forest had stood (it was cut down when the mills were built pre-Vancouver) to a bustling area with a popular park, an opera house, a huge hotel (for the time) and big businesses like the Hudson's Bay.

That same intersection is now home to an underground SkyTrain station, a subterranean mall, a couple of towers (albeit not the tallest in the city), and well, still Hudson's Bay. They really seem to like that corner (though that's not the original structure, it was built in 1913).