Intersections: West Fourth and Yew

We examine an iconic intersection in Vancouver, from way back when until now

August 4, 2016

By D.B. Thompson

In 1909, a new streetcar line connecting False Creek to the wilderness of Kitsilano opened up the west side of Vancouver to the masses—in particular, this business-friendly high point in Kits. The streetcar is long gone, but West Fourth Avenue and Yew Street have remained at the centre of commercial life in Kitsilano ever since. And just like the neighbourhood itself, the intersection’s makeup has evolved considerably.

Northeast
In 1910, two years after the streetcar line came in, the Canadian Bank of Commerce (now CIBC) built a grand, neoclassical bank to service the area. More recently, the heritage building has been home to Le Château and now Urban Outfitters.

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Southeast
For 17 years, Kits Coffee served simple brews in an unpretentious setting. After it shut down in 2012 (with a Comic Sans-font announcement on its front door), 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters took over. Yes, it’s busy and flashy—but you’ll be too busy enjoying the salted caramel from Lucky’s Doughnuts inside to care.

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Southwest
Home to Spa Ethos for many years, the building now houses Synergy BeauCare Clinic, which offers laser hair removal, facelifts, and spa treatments to help you feel your very best for your next jaunt around Kits—or to look your very best on the beach just five blocks down the street.

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Northwest
Whether you love or loathe medium-density, mixed-use, eco-friendly, block-long developments, you can blame (or credit) the Capers Building for starting the trend. Built in 1993 and named for the original flagship tenant (bought by Whole Foods in 2007), the building’s Yew Street end now houses a Semperviva Yoga studio, among others.

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West Fourth: The numbered street plotted by CPR land commissioner Lauchlan Hamilton on Lot 526, a large area given to the CPR south of False Creek in 1886.

Yew: Hamilton also decided every north-south street on this plot (spanning Heather to Vine) would be named after trees.

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