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Old ad captures Vancouver icon’s transformation into ‘ultra-modern’ hotel

"Such a place as drifts thro' dreams."

The Sylvia, with its stylized 'S' logo and ivy-covered walls, has long been a landmark of Vancouver's West End and the neighbourhood around English Bay.

When it first opened in 1913 it was actually a 70-unit apartment block. Initially, it was the tallest building in the city and for two decades it was only residences.

During the Great Depression in 1936 that began to change, as the first of the apartments were converted to hotel rooms and the structure began its transformation.

To let people know about this change ads were commissioned, including this one that advertises the Sylvia Court "now with hotel rooms."

"The smartest hotel rooms in the city," states the nearly 90-year-old ad. "Newly installed with ultra-modern, ultra-comfortable furnishings."

It really plays up how close the hotel is to the ocean and beach, still a popular feature in this day and age. Not all that is advertised is still nearby, though.

"Swimming, fishing, golf, tennis and Stanley Park are within three minutes walk," it states.

Tourists might be hard to find fishing or a proper golf course a short walk from the hotel now (no offense meant to the park's pitch and putt).

The Sylvia reached its final form in the 60s, as the last of the apartments were converted to hotel rooms; it became an official heritage site in the 1970s.

To see more of what the City of Vancouver Archives has in its vast collection, check out their website.