Early settlement years saw business activity centre on Park (Commercial) Drive while industry claimed the area's northern fringe (largely influenced by the CPR line and the Port). In the early 1900's, "Park Drive" was renamed "Commercial Drive", and "9th Avenue" became "Broadway".After 1912, building in the area slowed due to a city-wide recession, and a new political and economic focus centered on westside neighbourhoods such as Kitsilano, Point Grey, and Shaughnessy.
Transportation has always played a central role in the areas history: in its origins, development and focus for community action. As early as 1907 residents organized to have Park Drive improved so children would not have to walk along rail lines to school. Ratepayers rejected the First Avenue viaduct three times before agreeing in 1934.
In the 1950s residents complained of: improper lighting, crumbling streets, poor drainage, no library and poorly equipped schools. The trolley tracks on Commercial Drive were replaced with new blacktop and brighter street lights in 1954. Motor buses took over from the electric trolleys. A library did not arrive until the 1970s.
The Britannia Community Services Centre was one of North America's largest facilities when it was built in 1975. Carefully planned not to overwhelm the neighbourhood, its innovative design integrated recreation, learning and social facilities to provide services to a very mixed population. The 1970s also saw residents join the successful lobby to prevent the construction of a freeway down Venables Street through to Downtown. The 1980s saw the arrival of Skytrain in the area.
The face of the community changed after the First World War when Italian, Chinese, and East European immigrants arrived in the area. After World War II, a second wave of Italian immigrants made the area home. They renovated old houses and noticeably changed the look of Commercial Drive with new shops and restaurants. Grandview's Chinese residents increased in numbers in the 1950s and 1960s as some of the earlier Italian and East European residents moved on to other neighbourhoods. In the late 1960s, Grandview's first East Indian residents also made the community home.
Grandview-Woodland is characterized by a mix of buildings. Elaborate houses on large corner lots sit next to cottages on narrow ones.The largest houses date from the late 1890's and early 1900's, when Grandview-Woodland was initially promoted as a prestigious residential area. Several wealthy Vancouverites, including Professor Edward Odlum, Alderman J.J. Miller, and realtor Captain W.H. Copp, built in the area.
See detailed information on the city's heritage and a complete list of heritage buildings.
Additional information is available through the City of Vancouver Archives.
Did You Know?
It is said the area's name originated around 1892, when one of the earliest residents nailed up the sign "Grand View" at the interurban stop near what today is the intersection of Commercial Drive and 1st Avenue.
Originally called Park Drive, because it headed straight to Clark Park at 14th Avenue, Commercial Drive was renamed in 1911.
Grandview became known as "Little Italy" after the Second World War, when the original Italian community near Union Street moved east and was joined by new immigrants from Italy.