M u s e u m  C r e a t e d  L e s s o n

Revitalisation et embourgeoisement du Downtown Eastside

MusVan

Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia

Audio 3 - Helen Hill



Local residents like Helen Hill remember the original Woodward's W as an orienting, often comforting, landmark in the midst of an unpredictable downtown. Vancouver architect Gregory Henriquez is the managing partner of Henriquez Partners Architects. Henriquez Partners was selected by the City of Vancouver in its call for developers to revitalize the Woodward’s site.

Museum of Vancouver

© 2012, Museum of Vancouver. All Rights Reserved.

Transcript

NARRATOR
The original Woodward’s W was visible for miles. Local residents like Helen
Hill remember it as an orienting, often comforting, landmark in the midst of an
unpredictable downtown.

HELEN HILL
I moved from Burnaby into Vancouver, then I had second thoughts of coming in,
because I thought I’d get lost. But a woman says to me, you always look for the
Woodward’s sign. Because when you walk towards it, you’re in downtown. And I
always walked towards the W.

My kids, when they were little babies, you know, I’d hold them up when we were
up high in the street, right. I’d say, oh that’s the Woodward’s sign. That’s where
we’re going today. And you know, they’re like, I could hold them in two hands,
you know. But I says, that’s where we walked to. To have fun.

NARRATOR
Vancouver architect Gregory Henriquez is the managing partner of Henriquez
Partners Architects. Henriquez Partners was selected by the City of Vancouver in
its call for developers to revitalize the Woodward’s site.

Construction for the Woodward’s redevelopment started in 2006. Gregory shares
his recollections of the original Woodward’s W.

GREGORY HENRIQUEZ
It’s huge. It’s two storeys high and two storeys wide. It’s a big, big W. And it
rotates and it, you know, it’s up on a replica of the Eiffel Tower. So originally,
there was the Eiffel Tower up there on top of the building with a searchlight. And
then the W was mounted onto the concrete base, which supported the Eiffel
Tower.

And then in later years, they moved it up and made it rotate. Because I think the
searchlights interfered with airplanes when airplanes came along. Before that,
there was a big searchlight, that’s where Woodward’s was.

So yeah, so there’s a big history to that W. It’s a part of our skyline, but also
part of sort of the zeitgeist of the community and a symbol of really sort of an
important social and economic anchor.

NARRATOR
The original W is now encased in glass and displayed on the Cordova Street
walkway outside the new Woodward’s atrium.