The Purple Lights Of Our Ancient Basements

IMG_4482

Have a stroll around the older parts of Vancouver – specifically in and around the periphery of the Downtown Eastside – and it likely won’t take long for you to spot the little 3″ purple glass squares embedded in the oldest sections of sidewalk. These are known as vault lights or sidewalk prisms.

4288396873_c7e50b609c_b 4289139384_d24bd1c718_o

They were typically installed in the early 20th century before the common advent of civic electricity services. Their purpose was to naturally illuminate the basements of the businesses they fronted so that open flame wasn’t required (thereby reducing the risk of fire – a real anxiety in Vancouver after the Great Fire of 1886). The easiest place to behold their full effect (with a drink) is in the underground bar at Calabash. The pictures above were taken way back when the Caribbean-themed joint was under construction in 2010.

We recently discovered another set – almost completely intact – downstairs at Bodega on Main Street. These are pictured below (also taken while the restaurant was under construction).

True story: the originals were clear, but the glass’ high manganese content gave them a purplish hue over time.

IMG_8536 IMG_8595

THE NEXT COOL THING

There is 1 comment

Our Favourite Event of the Summer? The Powell Street Festival

The annual festival in and around Oppenheimer Park offers up full plates of Japanese-Canadian arts, culture, and fabulous food.

Get Your Eating Pants Ready! Italian Day is Coming

The annual celebration of Italian heritage is one of our great entertainment assets -- 14 blocks of delicious things to eat, drink, see and do!

From Humble Beginnings Came This Outstanding, Week-Long Beer Festival

Our '1,000 Cool Things About Vancouver' series continues with a no brainer: Vancouver Craft Beer Week

Sunshine, Concrete Couches and Ping Pong Next to a Brewery on a Bike Route

The new double-triangle bike route hangout on Vernon Drive (at Union Street) is the chillest place to take a break during rush hour.