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Vancouver Special becomes the star of its own tour

The idea behind a tour of the city’s most maligned housing style, the Vancouver Special, began as something of a joke.

The idea behind a tour of the city’s most maligned housing style, the Vancouver Special, began as something of a joke.


“We tend to ignore the house that is the most common in the city,” said Elana Zysblat, programming director with the Vancouver Heritage Foundation.


Each year, the foundation had hosted heritage tours that featured different decades. Tour goers began to joke that eventually the foundation would begin running tours of Vancouver Specials.
Zysblat said ignoring the Special, was like “ignoring the elephant in the room.”


The houses were built from the mid-60s to mid-80s, predominately on the East Side by blue-collar immigrant families. The simple boxy houses were designed to maximize square footage on Vancouver’s 33-foot lots.


At the time, the explosion of Specials, was “scary” for the establishment and resulted in the house-style’s poor reputation from the beginning.


To this day, Vancouver Specials can be a polarizing subject, and bring out “strong emotions,” she said, for people who love them and for people who hate them.


The tour, which is now in its second year, will look at four modernized and renovated Specials. Last year, the foundation sold 600 tickets, many to realtors and people who owned Specials themselves.


The tour runs Sept. 25 from 12 to 5 p.m. For tickets and information visit vancouverheritagefoundation.org.

 
 
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