Bartholomew’s Vancouver Plan Goes Digital

A highlight of this year’s 125th anniversary of the City of Vancouver was the digitization of the 1928 Bartholomew Plan for the city. Organized by the Archives and sponsored by Bing Thom Architects, this comprehensive plan that shaped the city is now available in a number of digital formats including a readily searchable version.

Commission Past Chair Eileen Keenan, a UK registered architect working with BTAworks, the research and development arm of Bing Thom Architects, hosted an evening panel to launch the release of the digital version in April.

Following an account of this major archiving project by Leslie Mobbs, City  Archivist, panelists Peter Greenwell (Commission Chair), Penny Gurstein (UBC School of Community and Regional Planning), Andy Yan (BTAWorks and former Commissioner, standing in for Tom Hutton, UBC School of Community and Regional Planning), Andrew Pask (Vancouver Public Space Network), and Gordon Price (SFU City Program) shared reflections on” the Vancouver that might have been, the metropolis that it has become, and the urban challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.”

Commission past chair Keenan Panellists
Eileen Keenan Peter Greenwell, Andy Yan, Penny Gurstein, Gordon Price, Andrew Pask

Harland Bartholomew and Associates were commissioned by the Vancouver Town Planning Commission in 1926 to develop the first master plan for the growing City of Vancouver.  While the resulting plan was never officially adopted, it was the first major document to consider the city as a whole within the region. Previously, the areas of Point Grey, South Vancouver, and Vancouver were managed separately.

From streets to parks to schools, Bartholomew set the stage for much of Vancouver’s current social, economic, physical, transportation and cultural infrastructure.  One of the legacies of the plan is the Cambie boulevard south of King Edward. Beginning with this master planning work in 1926 until the end of his commission in 1948, Bartholomew wrote over 20 separate reports and documents and provided the first comprehensive urban visions and plans for today’s Vancouver.

Bartholomew Plan coverTrained as a civil engineer, Bartholomew used an innovative approach to planning design in which engineers, architects and landscape architects worked as a team. His firm created comprehensive plans for hundreds of cities, predominately in the US. His scientific approach influenced the evolution of planning as a discipline. He also introduced public participation into the process of planning in the form of citizen advisory committees. The firm was respected and experienced by the time it was engaged by the Vancouver Town Planning Commission. Bartholomew died in 1989 at the age of 100.

Vancouver Archives links:

Greater Vancouver Streetcar Tracks Growth by Decade 1889 - 1926
Street car network 1889 – 1926 (page 88)

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