Jason Vanderhill, collector and historian extraordinaire, posted this newspaper clip on FB about the pending demise in 1946 of a section of “Skid Road” and the characters who were to be displaced. Hard to read in the image below, but this is how it begins:
“It appears, that in the interests of better town planning, certain experts have expressed the opinion that the entire block down in the old Skid-Road district bounded by Water, Carrall, Cordova, and Abbott streets must be razed to the ground in order to provide room for the parking of more motor vehicles.
“Should this be done, I suppose we must bow to the inevitable march of time and accept this harsh decree. However, the destruction of all these old landmarks, peopled by ghosts of the past, will wrench the very heartstrings of many old-timers.”
As it turned out, the block from Water to Abbott survived long enough to be re-imagined by Larry Killam and others in the late 1960s; the commercial and aesthetic potential of Gastown was a key element in the coalition of ideas that formed to fight the freeway in the early 1970s. The concession made to cars at the time was the big parkade, for Woodward’s, which took a chunk out of Water Street a block to the west – part of it became the “Historicum” [sic?] attraction and is now …. ?
The best claim-to-fame for the parkade is its appearance as a set in Jackie Chan’s classic “Rumble in the Bronx.”