Address: 736 Granville St | Neighbourhood: Granville | Established: 1927 | Currently: Active
Image of the Vancouver Block in 2012

The Vancouver Block stands on the highest point of land downtown and was constructed in 1912, during a pre-war building boom in the city. The 15-storey Edwardian commercial building helped establish the intersection of Georgia and Granville as downtown’s business core.

Red and blue neon tubing was installed to articulate the clock hands in 1927, marking the first arrival of neon in Vancouver.

The Vancouver Block’s bright new clock inspired other business owners to follow suit with neon. Twenty years later in the 1950s, Vancouver’s downtown streets were thick with all manner of neon signs.

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John Atkin
John Atkin said…
“This thing was seen just everywhere. But it’s a type of light source that attracted people to actually do that to their buildings..."
Rob Haynes
Rob Haynes said…
“That was the height of business; that’s where my dad had his office. And he was on the top floor, and that building has so much marble in it..."
John Atkin
John Atkin wrote…
“So here you have, at the time, one of the tallest buildings on the city skyline, and it’s now lit with these bright reds and blues...”

“People really wanted neon on their buildings and so even the owner of the Vancouver Block – the big, white terracotta building with the big square clock on the top – took that clock face and decided to put those reds and blues up on the clock face.

So here you have, at the time, one of the tallest buildings on the city skyline, and it’s now lit with these bright reds and blues.

The beauty of that is red neon is actually one of the most visible light sources going, so this thing was seen just everywhere. It’s the type of light source that attracted [other] people to do that to their buildings: like, “I want that on my building.”

— John Atkin, civic historian


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See what others have to say. The stories below were shared by users just like you. Please note: this content is user-submitted and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the MOV
Is that the Birks Clock pictured atop the Vancouver Block building? There were so many cool landmarks all over, like the Vancouver Sun building and the Aristocrat Restaurant, and A & W on 33rd, White Spot on Kingsway in the East End. I miss them (even though I've been living in California for 30 years).
Posted by 
Sat 14 Sep 2013
The most difficult part of maintaining the clocks neon, was making repairs the west elevation, which was best done from a bosons chair. On occasion a block and tackle had to be rigged to physically remove one of the hands
Posted by 
Wed 01 May 2013

Photo gallery

Get a closer look at this sign and the business it represents. All photos are provided by the MOV.
Vancouver Block Clock Tower 1920s
Vancouver Block and the 700 Block of Granville
Vancouver Block Clock Tower 1960
Demolition of the Hotel Vancouver 1949
Union 76 Gasoline Sign on the Vancouver Block 1936
Parking Lot in front of the Vancouver Block 1961
Vancouver Block Postcard 1936
Shell Sign on the Vancouver Block 1957
Vancouver Block Street View 1927
Vancouver Block Construction 1912
Vancouver Block Signage 1974
Vancouver Block 2010

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