The intersection of West Pender and Abbott Streets could be used as a barometer that measures Gastown's steady change from an industrial hub to a mixed-use urban village. International Village Mall is at the head of this evolution, establishing a firm retail presence on the southeast corner since 1999. A number of other buildings have been embedded into the streetscape since then, and we travel back in time 30-plus years to witness the changing scenery.

South side of West Pender Street in 1981, image via City of Vancouver Archives

International Village is equipped with 60 retail stores, multiple prominent LED displays, and a Cineplex theatre that anchors the intersection. Hundreds of residents have moved into the block at the opposite corner, where a highrise condominium now stands. The complex marks a significant shift from the area's parking lot-laden built form in 1981, depicted in the photo above, when the Sun Tower dominated Gastown.

The streetscape today is noticeably denser. Sorella, a 108-unit supportive housing development with ground floor retail, has blocked the lower floors of the Sun Tower from this angle. In the background at 183 Keefer is the 32-storey Paris Place, which contains 177 units, and was constructed in 1996. 

The corner of West Pender and Abbott Streets in 2015, image retrieved from Google Street View

Looking farther afield, the BC Hydro Centre at 333 Dunsmuir Street comes into view. The Postmodern-style, 19-storey tower was designed by Musson Cattell Mackey Partnership and completed in 1992. The 34-storey Scotia Tower, constructed in 1977, continues to be a conspicuous symbol of Vancouver's financial core.

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