“kind of an iconic spot in Vancouver.”
#12 in Downtown
200 West Hastings Street
Let’s start by acknowledging that as a park, or even a public space, Victory Square is somewhat limited.
It’s essentially another one of Vancouver’s extended triangle traffic medians, except this one is on a giant hill and is half-grass, half-cement. This makes group hangs hard, it makes chilling there for more than thirty minutes hard, it makes the park somewhat underutilized the 364 days a year it isn’t the centrepiece for Remembrance Day.
But that’s secondary to the reason Victory Square matters, which is as a public plaza to remember and honour those that served. And in that measure, Victory Square acquits itself well.
The geography of the park all angles down to the giant cenotaph, the stone helmets sitting on top of the lights arcing around it are understated but beautiful, and the heritage buildings that surround the block — including the Dominion Building, once Vancouver’s tallest structure — give an appropriate sense of grandeur and historical ambiance to the square.
There are other symbolic and historical details, if you want to appreciate them — like the fact Victory Square sits at the original business and political centre of the city, that it was home to one of the first “green space or towers?” debates in Vancouver’s history when there was discussion of what should replace the court house originally sitting there, that it has arguably been the transition point into the Downtown Eastside for decades now.
And there are other small physical details to appreciate — like the mosaic art, the ample areas to sit, or the fact it has one of the few public washrooms facilities in the area.
So no, not a great park. But an important park, and one that provides for a lot of different people in a lot of important ways.