Alberni Street: Beyond high-end stores to the Georgia Street Infinity Pool

Leonardo da Vinci quote in front of The Pacific Palisades.

Story & Photos by Dianne Maguire
(click on any photo to enlarge)

Vancouver has become famous for a square block of downtown real estate that is known as the the high-fashion strip, home to world renown stores marketing top designer accessories.

Waterfall garden at Pacific Palisades.

This part of Alberni runs from Burrard to Thurlow. Keep walking along Alberni for a couple of blocks and you will discover splendid features around residences that soon change the atmosphere.

“In rivers, the water you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes so with time present.”

This thought-provoking quote from Leonardo da Vinci is on a water feature in front of The Pacific Palisades, an apartment building located on the corner of Bute and Alberni. It is on a feature with a shallow pool fed by water splashing down to a large boulder. In the square trough above the cascade is a similar boulder. Between the rectangular columns, slopes of overlapping sheets of shale allow gentle waves of water to trickle from large ponds beyond the columns.

The Lions fountain on Alberni.

Water feature at Broughton Tower.

The Palisades at 1200 Alberni is one of the most splendid water features in the West End, yet there is another feature on the other side of the front door: a waterfall that appears to come from the garden located on top of the parkade.

In the next block, on the corner of Alberni and Jervis, a restored heritage building with a magnificent art glass window looks out of place in amidst the concrete and glass. This is one of the few preserved houses left in the heart of the West End, an area once called “Blue Blood Alley” because it was Vancouver’s first prestigious residential neighbourhood.

This home, originally owned by the first superintendent of the Pacific Division of the Canadian Pacific Railway, Harry B. Abbott, is still referred to as the Abbott House. The building and garden were restored in 1997 during the development of the adjacent condo building on Georgia Street.

On the same side of Alberni, only half a block along, you’ll come across the Lions, a multi-building apartment complex with a circular trough supporting a round bowl and its strong jet of water that is often caught in the wind. The view from the fountain includes the mountain peaks known as The Lions on the North Shore.

The Georgia Infinity Pool.

Cross Alberni at Broughton and take a look at the complex multi-jet fountain in front of the Broughton Tower at 711 Broughton Street. The square bowl of spurting water drips into a square pan that is surrounded by a circular trough filled with colourful plants. Alas, a board close by indicates that an application to replace buildings in that block has been made. Hopefully this fountain will be preserved.

The well-known Georgia Street Infinity Pool is at 1500 West Georgia, between Nicola and Cardero - but you can access it from Alberni Street. Before you reach Cardero, you will see a glimpse of the pool and a set of steps in front of the door marked 1500 that lead down to the pool. There are benches and pots of flowers along the walkway that leads around the edge of the water. Refreshments are available at the Nicola end of the walkway.

This is a perfect place to rest and refresh at the end of your wander along Alberni Street.