Vancouver USA has that classic Main Street. Our Main Street runs from 5th Street all the way up past 45th Street where it merges with Hazel Dell Avenue, I5, and Hwy 99. Before the Interstate was in place Main Street and Hwy 99 were one and the same road running all the way up to Salmon Creek. The interchange of SR14 and I5 also took out Main Street below 5th Street. It used to run all the way to the River.
Despite the tremendous growth and expansion of the ‘Couv’, Main Street remains very… well… ‘Main Streety’. Most of our tall modern buildings are located on C Street, Broadway, and Washington. With little exception Main Street still has a bit of small town flair about it. Sure, the Vancouver Center, Riverview Tower, Smith Tower, and Century Link Tower are looming structures, but they are not on Main Street. In fact the tallest buildings on Main have only 7 floors. It is a tie between the old ‘Arts Building’ and the more modern, Main Place. These two buildings are across Main Street from each other on the two north corners of 11th and Main.
I can’t say if it is by design or dumb luck that Vancouver has been able to grow into a fairly cosmopolitan modern city without destroying the classic charm of a smaller town from the bygone era. It matters not how, but only that it is, and it is awesome. It is not often that a city can reach the size and scope of Vancouver USA and still retain that sliver of yesteryear right through the heart of Downtown. Yet we have managed to do just that.
Every summer we have the “Cruisin’ the Gut” event that harkens back to the 50’s and 60s with hot rods cruising up and down Main Street. And with few exceptions it is easy to take photos that look like small town USA. Even in the lower portions near the center of Downtown, Main Street retains a great deal of nostalgic charm. Move one block east or west and quickly the feel changes to our newer, more urban, 21st century vibe.
I have been an advocate for growth in Vancouver but I do very much wish to see our city keep the Main Street corridor looking like Main Street USA. Most of the urban development underway for the next several years will be focused on the fabulous new waterfront. There are several other ready to develop lots downtown such as Washington Street between 8th and 9th and the old Carr dealership lot on C Street. These lots are zoned for tall modern structures and that is fine by me. I think it is ideal that Downtown go tall off Main Street and stay charming on Main. It is rare indeed to have the best of both and here in the ‘original’ Vancouver, that’s exactly what we have.
Ah the ‘Couv’ life; it is good, be it small town or big city.