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Commercial Drive, Vancouver

Commercial Drive is a roadway in the city of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada that goes through the neighbourhood of Grandview-Woodland. However, the neighbourhood is so dominated by the businesses, cultural facilities, and residents along Commercial Drive that the area is far better known as "The Drive" than by the civic boundaries. The district is one of Vancouver's Business Improvement Areas (BIA).

The district is served by many different bus routes, as well as both the SkyTrain's Expo Line and Millennium Line at Commercial–Broadway Station.

Commercial Drive is a mixed residential-commercial area with a high proportion of ethnic and vegetarian restaurants, businesses, and public housing. The area has low property prices compared to the westside of Vancouver, yet has good city services and is a local transit hub. It has been the destination for generations of immigrants to Vancouver and has significant Italian, Asian, Latin America, East Indian, and African communities. As of the Canada 2001 Census, English is a minority language in Grandview-Woodland, though still the most common.

Commercial Drive has a large number of local ethnic stores and community groups, Edwardian-style heritage buildings, European-style cafes, bars, and alternative shops and entertainment venues. As of late August 2007, there are 93 restaurants on Commercial Drive between Venables and Broadway, of which 19 are coffee bars.

It is home to an active street festival culture; notable annual events include the Vancouver Dyke March in August and the Parade of the Lost Souls in October. It also plays host to Vancouver's only queer spoken word and musician performance night, Unsweetened (and Outspoken). The Drive is a popular place for Vancouverites who want to experience a safe version of North American counter-culture.

History

The Drive was originally a skid road for dragging logs to the harbour. It was named "Park Drive" but renamed "Commercial Drive" in 1911, possibly to avoid confusion with other Park Drives in Vancouver. Commercial Drive ends in the south at 16th Avenue, the former end of Vancouver/start of City of South Vancouver, when it diverts to Victoria Drive. A limited light industrial Commercial Street carries on to 22nd Avenue, and around the Selkirk school there, until 54th Avenue as a residential street.

In 1891 the Drive became part of the Vancouver-New Westminster Interurban, a streetcar line. The streetcar line encouraged the growth of local businesses and residences, an influence that is still felt today. Two streetcar lines ran down Commercial—there was the Interurban line to Westminster along Kingsway, and the Interurban line via Burnaby Lake. There were also numerous city lines, which continue today as trolleybuses. The Interurban ceased operation in 1954.

During the pre-World War One period, a number of speculators—including McSpadden and Odlum (both of whom have nearby streets named for them) -- attempted to turn the Grandview neighbourhood, centered on the Drive, into a real estate area comparable to the West End and the newly opened Shaughnessy Heights. The global financial collapse around 1913 put an end to their hopes.

Commercial Drive was the centre of a prosperous suburb during the 1920s, but declined during the Great Depression and never significantly recovered until World War II. One result of this is a significant number of historical buildings and residences in the area. Commercial Drive was originally closer to the centre of town—town being located at Main and Hastings. Since then the focus of town has moved west. Commercial Drive included market gardens, sash and door factories, light industrial, rooming houses, dairies, orchards and open fields. In the urban sprawl of the 1950s the open areas were filled in.

After World War II many Italian immigrants settled in eastern Vancouver, and the northern part of Commercial Drive came to be known as "Little Italy". A sizable Portuguese community came to the area as well. During the 1960s, immigration from Asian countries began to dilute the European influence. A wave of Latino immigrants came in the 1980s as a result of the turmoil and civil wars in Central America. Many came from South America as well—the Mercosur Republics. Vietnamese nationals immigrated as well.

Throughout the 1980s, The Drive attracted a large counter-culture demographic, including political activists, lesbians, hippies, punks, and artists. Around the turn of the millennium, local outlets of multi-national companies became the target of anti-globalization protesters and civil disobedience campaigns. SkyTrain opened into the neighbourhood with Broadway Station in December 1985. Market forces and the ongoing squalor, drugs and crime of the nearby neighbourhood Downtown Eastside spilled over to the Drive with an increase of panhandling, drunkenness, heroin use and trafficking, litter and filth. Meanwhile, gentrification also came to the district with new condominium housing projects and new storefronts replacing old woodframe stores.

In 2002, many restaurant owners were upset with the infamous "dancing police"; bylaw enforcement officers who ticketed establishments hosting any dancing to live music. In late 2004, Commercial Drive gained national notoriety when the media complained that several cafes there were openly selling marijuana. As of 2005, there are still very few large retail or restaurant chains on Commercial Drive. The Da Kine, an Amsterdam style cafe, was raided by police and owner Carol Gwilt charged with trafficking. She was eventually sentenced to prison. The issue has publicised the city's lack of enforcement of Canadian drug laws, and demonstrated a commitment to its stated "Four Pillars" drug strategy.

In early summer 2005, Commercial Drive hosted its first car-free festival, in which 16 blocks were cleared of all vehicles and tens of thousands of people celebrated with walks, dancing, and food. The festival has since become an annual event, expanding to other parts of the city in 2008, and as of 2009, the Drive and Main St are to host car-free days every Sunday afternoon throughout July and August.

The upper Drive at Broadway has turned into the city's busiest crossroad with the arrival of the second SkyTrain or Millennium Line. This transit system, combined with the B-Line Express bus on Broadway made for a spike in foot-traffic.

Today Commercial Drive is a multicultural and urban area.

Commercial Drive Listings

Vancouver Commercial Drive

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  • 1180 SEMLIN Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2281062

    Open House on Saturday, June 23, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
    Main Photo: 1180 SEMLIN Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2281062
    $998,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2281062
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    852 sq. ft.
    Desirable neighborhood, and Rarely available, this Heritage designed 1/2 duplex is nestled on one of Commercial Drive's quietest streets, surrounded by beautiful character homes and great neighbors. Immaculately kept with a great open floor plan, polished stone counters, HW floors, Vaulted ceilings & Skylights on Upper level, lovely Front Porch overlooking the private yard and fruit trees, makes for a wonderful extension for outdoor entertaining. Bonus detached garage with w alley access plus 426 sqft of crawl space below main. Be part of this vibrant community full of great culture & festivals. Short walk to eateries, cafes, green grocers, transit, public & private schools and more. Open House Sat. & Sun. June 23 & 24 from 2-4pm More details
    Listed by Park Georgia Realty Ltd.
  • 1588 E 10 Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2281014

    $1,788,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2281014
    Bedrooms:
    4
    Bathrooms:
    3
    Floor Area:
    1,950 sq. ft.
    Good location, close to everything, good revenue and good potential holding (now RT%, future higher)...land size 3239 sq ft, building almost 2000 sq ft, 3 bedroom suite and 2 bedroom suite, no maintenance fee. More details
    Listed by Saba Realty Ltd.
  • 2245 E 7TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale in "COMMERCIAL DRIVE" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2281227

    Open House on Thursday, June 21, 2018 6:00PM - 7:00PM
    Main Photo: 2245 E 7TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale in "COMMERCIAL DRIVE" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2281227
    $1,799,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2281227
    Bedrooms:
    4
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    2,166 sq. ft.
    Come live on ‘7th HEAVEN’ - one of The Drive’s most beautiful tree-lined streets in a nicely maintained & upgraded character home. The airy open floor plan features a grand foyer, fir floors, cozy fireplace, high ceilings & a dining room big enough for the whole family. The spacious kitchen has s/s appliances, gas range & access to the cool sundeck. Upstairs has 3 good sized bedrooms with nice fir floors & a large bath with charming clawfoot tub & sep shower. The lower level has laundry + a self contained 1 bedrm suite. The fantastic private yard oasis has deck, patio, trees, gorgeous landscaping & single garage. A short stroll to Skytrain, Donald’s market, Trout Lake Laura Secord elem, Van Tech high & the city’s best coffee, beer & pizza. A great family home in a fantastic location! SNEAKY PEEK THURS JUNE 21ST 6-7PM! More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Select Realty
  • 2235 CHARLES Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2280813

    Main Photo: 2235 CHARLES Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2280813
    $1,358,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2280813
    Bedrooms:
    3
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    1,894 sq. ft.
    Grandview Woodland RT5 zone! Cozy bungalow. To live, invest, hold, or build. Great for start up family or investment for value appreciation. Opposite to Lord Nelson Elementary and blocks from Britannia Secondary. Short distance to public transit, shops, T&T supermarket, restaurants. 2 year old kitchen and bathroom on the main; 10 year old roof, newer water tank. Large sundeck with a view of the peak North Shore Mountains. Great value! More details
    Listed by Sutton Group-West Coast Realty
  • 1388 E 7TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2280688

    Open House on Saturday, June 23, 2018 2:00PM - 4:00PM
    Main Photo: 1388 E 7TH Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House 1/2 Duplex for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2280688
    $1,688,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2280688
    Bedrooms:
    4
    Bathrooms:
    3
    Floor Area:
    2,060 sq. ft.
    Location! Location! Central to both Broadway & VVC Clark Sky-train station. This Side by Side 1/2 duplex offer Open layout, Quartz countertops and granite flooring plus stainless steel appliances. Good installation spray foam, Radiant heating and Security camera system. Private fence front and back yard. One bedroom suite can be used as mortgage helper. Call for your private showing. Open house June 23 -24 , 2-4 Pm More details
    Listed by Royal Pacific Tri-Cities Rlty
  • 2 1296 SALSBURY Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "THE JEFFS RESIDENCES" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2280441

    Main Photo: 2 1296 SALSBURY Drive in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "THE JEFFS RESIDENCES" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2280441
    $988,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2280441
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    866 sq. ft.
    The Jeffs Residence! a limited collection of 20, historically inspired Rowhomes & Manor Residences in the heart of Commercial Drive. This top floor corner unit has lots of natural light throughout the day, with views of the North Shore Mountains and City. This home includes: Granite Countertops, Vaulted Ceilings, Frameless Glass Shower Enclosures, Gas Fireplace & Engineered Floors, Vancouver Wall Beds Storage, In-suite Washer & Dryer & more! Also included with this home is One Underground Secure Parking Stall, One Storage Locker, Individual Hot Water Tank (Gas) and a Security System. The building is on a quiet street and only minutes to Parks, Schools, Shopping and more! More details
    Listed by One Percent Realty Ltd.
  • 1922 WILLIAM Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2280241

    Main Photo: 1922 WILLIAM Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2280241
    $1,639,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2280241
    Bedrooms:
    3
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    2,442 sq. ft.
    Builder/Investor alert! Build your dream home/revenue property in the popular Commercial Drive neighbourhood. Close to schools and parks. Short stroll to the shops and restaurants on The Drive. This property is one of the larger size lots (40'x100') on the block with back lane access. Current zoning (RT-5) allows for duplex. House is sold "AS IS, WHERE IS". Value is in the land. Do not walk on property without Listing Agent present. More details
    Listed by Macdonald Realty Westmar
  • 308 1330 GRAVELEY Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "Hampton Court" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2279314

    Main Photo: 308 1330 GRAVELEY Street in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "Hampton Court" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2279314
    • Front exterior
    • Kitchen
    • Breakfast bar
    • Great room
    • Great Room
    • View from loft
    • Spacious, open loft with office room.  Skylit and bright.
    • Hardwood maple flooring; walk-in closet with skylight.
    • Recently renovated bathroom with insuite laundry. Washer & dryer 1 year old.
    • Hardwood maple floors grace the foyer.
    • Balcony
    • View from balcony
    $699,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2279314
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    916 sq. ft.
    Hampton Court near Commercial Drive. Beautifully updated 2 bedroom top floor, bright south corner unit with views to the City from great room on main, loft (used as 2nd bdrm) above & private balcony. Loads of skylights. Newer (2013) maple flooring grace the main floor throughout. Quartz countertops, backsplash, stainless steel appliances, contemporary cabinets and eating bar grace the recently renovated kitchen with open outlook to great room with 18-foot ceilings, floor to ceiling cathedral windows, gas fireplace. Master bedroom with skylit walk-in closet. Spacious light-drenched loft with newer carpet with bonus office room. Updated bathroom. Insuite laundry (washer & dryer - 2017). 2 pkg spaces, 1 locker and bike room. Pet friendly building. First showings at Sneak Peek this Thursday, 5:30-7:00pm, Open House, Sat. June 16, 2 4pm. Steps to the Drive! More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Crest Realty
  • 404 1515 E BROADWAY in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "CALEDONIA PLACE" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2280137

    Main Photo: 404 1515 E BROADWAY in Vancouver: Grandview VE Condo for sale in "CALEDONIA PLACE" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2280137
    $549,000
    Residential Attached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2280137
    Bedrooms:
    2
    Bathrooms:
    1
    Floor Area:
    843 sq. ft.
    Enjoy the pretty outlook over Shelly Park and the North Shore Mountains from this quiet, top floor, corner suite yet be less than a block from all of the Commercial Drive happenings. This is a well kept 2 bedroom condo which has had a number of improvements including laminate flooring throughout, an updated kitchen and renovated bath. This boutique building has only 23 units which gives it a nice community feel ideal for a first time buyer or small family. It also allows rentals for those looking for an investment opportunity and with a walk score of 95 and transit score of 94 attracting a great tenant is a breeze. The suite comes with underground parking for 1 vehicle, a storage locker and you can even bring a well behaved pet. OPEN CANCELLED More details
    Listed by Royal LePage Sussex
  • 1951 E 3RD Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale in "COMMERCIAL DRIVE" (Vancouver East) : MLS®# R2279697

    Main Photo: 1951 E 3RD Avenue in Vancouver: Grandview VE House for sale in "COMMERCIAL DRIVE" (Vancouver East)  : MLS®# R2279697
    $1,599,000
    Residential Detached
    Status:
    Active
    MLS® Num:
    R2279697
    Bedrooms:
    4
    Bathrooms:
    2
    Floor Area:
    2,590 sq. ft.
    Large Vancouver Special just steps from McSpadden Park and Queen Vic Elementary! In the same family since new, this home has been lovingly cared for and has had numerous updates over the years. Upstairs has 3 bedrooms, a spacious living room with balcony access, dining room and kitchen that opens to a huge sunny deck. Down has another bedroom, large family room, full kitchen with island and eating area, laundry and access to an attached garage that has been converted to a rec room/lounge area that opens to an awesome patio. Sitting on a 33'x122' RT-5 lot, this property offers huge potential. Co-housing, strata conversion, new duplex? Or just move into this well built Commercial Drive home and make it your own! More details
    Listed by RE/MAX Select Realty
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Listing information last updated on June 18, 2018 at 08:06 PM (UTC)

Inside Vancouver Neighbourhoods: Commercial Drive