The West End lies west of Downtown, and, on three sides, is bounded by water: English Bay, Coal Harbour, and Lost Lagoon in world-famous Stanley Park. Recreational amenities are within walking distance for residents of this high-density area. The West End includes Davie Village – traditionally a hub for the city's gay community – and Denman Street, which together provide local shopping and restaurants. This area also has high-end retail on Robson Street and Alberni Street.
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Through the 1890s the forest was logged and gradually replaced with grand Victorian homes for upper-income families. With the CPR's development of Shaughnessy in 1910, the West End's role as a "high-class" residential area declined and the community's second stage of development began. Apartments were built, homes along the Robson, Denman and Davie (all streetcar lines) were redeveloped as shops, and larger homes were converted into rooming houses.
The community's first apartments were constructed on the streetcar line that ran down Robson Street. The Manhattan (now a housing co-operative), designed by well-known architects Parr and Fee, still stands at the comer of Robson and Thurlow Streets. City building regulations, which lasted until 1956, restricted these early masonry buildings to six floors, and wood frame buildings to three floors.
During the 1930s and 40s, the third wave of apartment development occurred. These were low rise structures with impressive Art Deco and Tudor-inspired facades. They were designed to give the community an air of permanence and respectability.
The 1950s brought the fourth stage of redevelopment to the West End. These changes were mainly in response to zoning changes and technological advancements which allowed for cheaper and better multi-storey construction. The majority of high-rise apartment development occurred between 1962 and 1975 where more than 220 highrises were built. This building boom created the skyline that we are familiar with today.
In the 1970s, and again in the 1980s, resident's expressed concerns changes in their community. In response, City Council initiated local area planning programs involving West End residents, local business people and City staff.