Reflecting Vancouver

Urbanism and Life on the West Coast

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Dividing Line

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It seemed certain after yesterday’s starry evening that the bizarrely persistent fog over Vancouver had finally lifted. For six days, the city has seemed more like San Francisco. Fog is not rare in Vancouver, but I’ve never witnessed a week of it. Unlike our alluded sister city to the south, we are accustomed to our city being beneath the clouds, not within them. I’m certain there’s a metaphor there somewhere.

The palm of Burrard Peninsula seemed broadly free at the end of the workday, when I took to my bike near Oak Street. The final descent down Cypress toward Burrard Bridge, however, yielded no sight of the city. A thick veil of white hung over False Creek, seemingly across the bridge deck, the usual grandeur of urban and natural landscape fully erased. Even in the rain, one can still admire a misty palette of grey and tan over the water. Even at night, beacons of light behind downtown glass shimmer and play off raindrops. The starkness of Burrard Bridge and its peak hour traffic, ending in abrupt and unflattering haze, was a striking sight and a reminder of all that Vancouver owes to its setting.

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Above the shroud, the fading light of the sun painted a dreamlike portrait of Martello Tower and the Alvar. The psychological and near-physical dividing line between the West End and Yaletown, the towers represent two eras and architectures, two philosophies and modes of living in Vancouver history. It’s a spot in the city that fascinates me, two sides of the downtown coin, separate but equal Vancouver visions of living in the clouds.