The West End

Mid-century residential buildings

Located southwest of downtown and bordered by the waterfront, Georgia Street, Burrard Street and Denman Street – although historically, everything “West of Denman” is also considered the West End – this neighborhood’s landscape is ripe with mid-century architecture as well as construction from the turn-of-the-century… the turn of both centuries!

The last 150-odd years have seen posh mansions, row houses, 3-story walk-ups, modernist towers, brutalist monoliths and glass high rise buildings all share space in this densely populated 1 square km area.

The real building boom, though, came after the Second World War; as the population grew so did the demand for housing and up went the mid-century apartment buildings, the foremost of which are still located “West of Denman.”  That’s not to say the West End, “East of Denman,” doesn’t have its own mid-century jewels among the area’s less appealing post-modern and generic 1980s and 90s condos.

At the corner of Beach Avenue & Bidwell Street stands the iconic Beach Towers, (circa 1965), and not far from there in the 1500-1600 blocks of Burnaby Street, are a nice collection of post-war era residences that include 3-story walk-ups (some with attractive ceramic tile facades), taller concrete towers with pre-cast detailing and modernist apartment buildings that feature breeze blocks and creative balcony balustrades.

In fact, these types of mid-century buildings are all over the West End, so if a leisurely two or three hour stroll is in your future why not walk around this beautiful, tree-lined residential area. You won’t be disappointed.

Fun Fact: Here’s a quick way to [mostly] identify pre-1964 construction. Up until 1963, a balcony’s square footage was included as part of an apartment’s floor space ratio so developers weren’t inclined to include them, and if they did, they were narrow Juliet-style offerings. Zoning laws changed in 1964, and with it, the proliferation of larger balconies in the area.

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