The Way We Were: Billboard Jungle

By Helena McMurdo

A few weeks ago, we wrote about some of the advertising on South Granville in the early part of the century. During that research we found a plethora of images of billboards and advertising from back in the day that we thought it would be fun to share. Our neighbourhood looked very different in the past with the skyline being dominated by large billboards.

Back in 1926, food staples and household appliances were the items of desire but by the middle of the last century, the object of our lust had shifted to the automobile. Although our readers may be familiar with present day "Dueck on Marine", this 1949 sign on Granville Street just below Broadway led the inhabiters of the day to the Dueck dealership at 1305 West Broadway. That's where you could find beauties like this Cadillac.

Dueck Chevrolet neon sign at night on building Granville & West Broadway. Part of a second billboard for Daily Province Newspaper also show. 1949 ©VPL Archives

It was a similar situation at Broadway and Granville where a billboard for a "Power Glide" Chevrolet sat on top of the famous Aristocratic. Down at the bottom of the hill it's all cigarettes, white bread and leaded gasoline. Don Draper would be proud.

Corner of Granville Street & West 4th Avenue looking South from Granville Bridge, 1950 © VPL Archives

Corner of Granville Street & West 4th Avenue looking South from Granville Bridge, 1950 © VPL Archives

Ignore for a moment the selection of unhealthy choices and notice in particular the change in the roadway shown in the photographs above and below as a result of the construction of the Granville Street Bridge opened in 1954. (More on that coming soon).

The image below, from 1961, is looking a lot more like the South Granville we recognize. Rail tracks removed, the bridge ramp sweeps directly up Granville Street past that bus stop we know today. Although we don't see those '57 Chevs too often these days. Pity.

Billboards at the south end of the Granville Street Bridge, 1961. © VPL Archives

Billboards at the south end of the Granville Street Bridge, 1961. © VPL Archives