Potemkin Alley

Welcome to the Vancouver Lexicon. Its purpose is to pin down the patois of the City of Vancouver by recording its toponyms, nicknames, slang terms, personalities, places, and other Van-centric things. Full A-Z here.

Potemkin Alley | places, colloquial | An alley that used to be like the dozens of others in downtown Vancouver – which is to say a little sordid and reeking of urine – until it was refreshed by lick of paint and maybe a basketball hoop or a light installation. The cynical reference is to Russia’s famed Potemkin Village, a fake, portable construct designed to fool a travelling monarch into thinking things were much better than they were. Vancouver’s most fêted Potemkin Alley is the recently dressed up “Pink Alley”, which can be found just south of Hastings St. on Granville St. (pictured above). A model of what is desired and possible.

See also: Market Alley, Green Door.

Usage: “The idea of a Potemkin Alley is entirely in keeping with our civic tradition of masking problems instead of fixing them.”

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