Gastown

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I drew this picture of the view from a window of 90 Alexander Street about 12 years ago.  I lived in this heritage building in Gastown for a few years after I returned from Estonia.   The other occupants were artists and other low-income working people.   The 100 year old building was originally a hotel for travellers arriving on the CPR railway.   The building is mainly single rooms with washrooms and kitchens outside in the hallway.

It was fun to live there.  I came to understand and respect my neighbours – the people of the Downtown Eastside.   I have a lot of good memories of the building – it had a lot of soul.

Many buildings on the block are among Vancouver’s oldest, which is not saying much.  Once the Walt Disney Company rented the whole 100 Alexander St block from the city, paid off the merchants and building owners and converted the street into an old western set for the movie, Legends of the Fall, starring Brad Pitt.  We could look down on the movie set from our windows. 

The building caught fire this week and the current occupants are homeless.   The fire started in the ground floor restaurant and spread to the upper three floors.  Fourty firefighters fought it.   It’s said the building may not survive the extensive damage.  That would be a shame – and I hope the people who live there get re-housed.  I guess nothing lasts forever.

 This is a painting I did of a room I lived in there.  I moved around the building through the years.  I still have the chair.

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