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Sharing the Past: Downtown HistoricTrail

November 29, 2012

A new series: documents from Vancouver’s past that might otherwise get lost in the mulch pile (digital or otherwise) but deserve to be remembered – and used.  Little sketches do frequently have a shelf life and can lead to bigger and better things.  Here’s an example:


The Downtown Historic Trail.

Alan Herbert, who was a councillor at the time Library Square was being constructed, was enthusiastic about the idea of a walking trail along Hamilton Street, connecting the Library precinct (and even Chinatown) with Yaletown. The City of Vancouver Greenways Branch, with support from Scot Hein and the City’s Urban Design Studio, built on this opportunity with related active design work for the Carrall Street Greenway and CPR ROW.

The result: “Connecting the Towns Concept”.

From there, the City commissioned MVH Urban Planning & Design Inc. in conjunction with Dolores Altin, Shira Golden and Don Wuori, to develop a walking route that connected up the historically rich areas of downtown.  The report was submitted in August of 2005.   The illustrator was Cal Scrigley; the  lighting consultant was Joseph Scott.

Today you can find the report here – in the SFU City Program’s Historical Documents resource section.


The Downtown Historic Trail is a special walking route that stands apart from the other downtown streets on its own merit. It is charged with the important task of connecting three historically rich areas – to each other, to adjacent neighbourhoods and to other parts of the City. It provides clear direction and information on how to get to the historic neighbourhoods of Gastown, Yaletown and Chinatown from key connection points, tell the stories of Vancouverites at places along its route, and communicate their significance to the visitor.

These little sketches did lead to bigger and better things  … even formal funding!   A nice example of why past co-planning director Larry Beasley established the City’s Urban Design Studio in the first place.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 29, 2012 12:46 pm

    I’m happy to be the first person to comment on this posting, as I think it is a sensational contribution to the potential public realm of the city. Kudos to the consulting team and staff, a job well done, setting a very high standard for analysis and urban design for future efforts.

    Now, if someone on Council or the community would just champion the thing to move it forward.

  2. Adam Fitch permalink
    November 29, 2012 5:35 pm

    That is a gorgeous and inspiring planning doc.

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