Address: 111 W Hastings St | Neighbourhood: Hastings-Chinatown | Established: vers 1955; replica relit 2010 | Currently: Active
Image of Woodwards in 2012

The original Woodward’s W in the 100 block of West Hastings Street was a mammoth in the sky, visible for miles around. The large, almost omniscient W spoke to the wide-ranging role that the Woodward’s Department Store played in the home lives of thousands of Vancouver residents.

Woodward’s was a popular, all-purpose hub for groceries, dining, clothing, and house ware. It operated between 1902 and 1993. Up above, 140 metres of neon tubing outlined the body of the W, and the letter was lit with 572 twinkling 50-watt bulbs.

The W stood 300 feet above Hastings Street on an 80-foot tower designed to imitate the Eiffel Tower in the neon heyday.

Today, the original W is encased in glass in the new Woodward’s courtyard at Cordova and Cambie Streets. A new red W is back in the sky, this time lit with energy-efficient LED lights.

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Helen Hill
Helen Hill said…
A woman says to me, "You always look for the Woodward’s sign. Because when you walk towards it, you’re in downtown..."
Liz Lee
Liz Lee said…
$1.49 days, who can forget that? I think they were on Tuesdays or something. You’d always remember that jingle. “$1.49 Day, doo-doo…”
Dal Richards
Dal Richards wrote…
“In the ‘30s, my family, who lived in Marpole, would drive down to Woodward’s to do Saturday afternoon shopping. We’d have dinner there too..."

“Every Saturday afternoon in the ‘30s, my family, who lived in Marpole, would drive down to Woodward’s to do Saturday afternoon shopping. We’d do that and then we’d have dinner at Woodward’s. Then we’d walk down to what’s known as Pantages Theatre in those days, the vaudeville house, which is a corner of Carrall and Hastings.

That used to be a huge thrill for me. It was quite an ornate theatre. It was almost in keeping with the Orpheum in design and opulence.

It had an orchestra of course, and when we’d be sitting there and the lights would come up after the movie stopped and the music began, the orchestra was in a pit. I was thrilled out of my bootstraps!

We had the same routine every Saturday: Dinner at Woodward’s. Walk down the street. And see these wonderful vaudeville shows.”

-Dal Richards, saxophonist, big-band legend


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As third generation employee of Neon Products, I spent more days than I can count maintaining the original Woodward's W. Climbing the tower , repairing neon and flashing bulbs.
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.
Woodward's Beacon 1938
Smashed Window Display at Woodward's 1938
Woodward's Building 1907
Woodward's Signage
Woodward's Exterior 1949
Installation of Woodward's New Sign 2010
Panoramic View of Woodward's
New Woodward's Sign 2010
$1.49 Day Sale at Woodward's 1965
Woodward's Escalators 1945
Woodward's Glove Department 1945
Woodward's Grocery Checkout 1948
War Bonds Booth at Woodward's 1943

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