Custom Search

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Crystal Gardens

This is the intersection of Douglas and Belleville Streets, one block over from the Empress Hotel and the Inner Harbor. In the foreground of the photo is the Crystal Gardens, designed by Francis Rattenbury, the architect responsible for two other downtown landmark buildings, the Empress Hotel (now known as the Fairmont Empress) and the Legislative Assembly Buildings. The Crystal Gardens was originally erected as a public swimming pool in 1925. It also had tea gardens and dance floors and was very much a social center. In 1925, Johnny Weismuller, the Human Hydroplane, set a world swimming record for the 100 yard freestyle here. Later he became well-known in the movies as Tarzan.

The Crystal Gardens remained a public swimming pool until 1967. Since then the building has been used in a number of ways, mostly unsuccessful. My favorite use was when it was transformed into a tropical garden filled with lush jungle growth. Now it has become part of the Victoria Conference Centre and is full of delegates.

(Yesterday's flowering tree is visible in this photo, near the exact center at the bottom, just to the right of the two green signposts.)

6 comments:

USelaine said...

At least they didn't tear it down, but kept trying to find an ongoing use for it. I wish I could have seen the tropical garden...

Corey Burger said...

I was lucky enough to have my grad dance there. The BC Experience was a lovely disaster and the conference centre will be too, mostly because numbers of conferences are dropping.

Virginia said...

I love seeing your city B., Nice old building. Like the color. Maybe it'll make it. DOn't let em tear it down now!

Petrea said...

I just want your lens.

Wayne said...

I hope someone in City Planning has a handle on the highrise construction. It doesn't affect me but it's making me nervous about the future look of Victoria.

How long has the Old Spaghetti Factory been there? I haven't walked by there for quite a while but the last time I ate in there it was a different restaurant.

biaobao said...

Victoria is definately an outdoor city, in the summertime the weather is beautiful (yes, even when it rains) and you can spend an entire day walking throughout the city without getting tired.

I go back every few years to see all the tourist places such as the Crystal Gardens, it truly is a beautiful indoor wonderland.