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.
Zero Block | place, colloquial | The first block of East Hastings St. between Carrall St. and Columbia St. on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Of course, the first block of West Hastings (between Carrall St. and Abbott St.) is a zero block too in that the building addresses also start in single digits, but it has not become entrenched as such in local parlance. Though for the first half of the 20th century the Zero Block (aka “The Zero”) stood as a major arterial and commercial thoroughfare, for the past couple of decades it has been labeled – rightly or wrongly, similar to the intersection of Main & Hastings and nearby Oppenheimer Park – as ‘ground zero’ in the city’s opioid, mental health and homeless crises.
The Zero Block is home to the Chicago-style Holden Block, which operated as Vancouver’s City Hall between 1929-1936; several social housing units and social service missions; Knowltons Drug Store; the outdoor Powell St. Market; Pigeon Park Savings; and the locked up remains of both The Only Seafood and the The Loggers’ Social Club. The view from its eastern terminus (looking up Hastings beyond Columbia) was most famously photographed by Fred Herzog in 1958.
Usage: “Do you know where the Zero Block is? My bike was stolen last night and that’s where everyone is telling me to look for it…”