|This is what it looks like today. There's a Starbucks on the corner, various stores along the street, and behind, a full-scale condo development.|
|This is the waterfront office tower we moved to in 1997. In my last years at the building, there was a complete renovation of the lobby, which turned it into a marvel of gleaming white marble and water views. Way too chic for a newspaper office!|
The most romantic newspaper office ever has to have been in the old Sun Tower building at Beatty and Powell in downtown Vancouver. Its green-domed roof and octagonal tower are distinctive still, but when it was completed in 1912, its 17 storeys made it the tallest building in the British Empire.
Alas, I was nine years too late to have had the thrill of working there. By the time I joined The Vancouver Sun in 1974, the paper had moved to a block-sized concrete box on Granville Street, across the bridge from downtown. But the new building had its pluses. Built at a fat and flourishing time, it was a complete community, with presses thundering in the basement, a 24-hour cafeteria on the top floor, and between them, the Sun and Province newsrooms, a library, the circulation and advertising departments, and Edith Adams Cottage -- yes, a fully equipped test kitchen for the Sun's food pages. A coffee wagon circulated day and night -- its tumbril-like rattle raising calls of, "Bring out your dead!" Delivery trucks picked up the freshly printed papers at the side door at about the time my shift ended at night, and it was a thrill when I knew a story I had just finished was in those stacks. Ugly as it was, we bonded, that building and I, and it was my home away from home for two decades.
Things were tightening up by 1997, when the site was sold (mainly for condos), and we moved to a waterfront office tower downtown. The new office had no cafeteria, no coffee wagon, no printing presses, no delivery trucks, and it was spread out over various floors, so it was no longer a newspaper operation as I knew it. It was bits and pieces of one, and the cruise ships outside the windows didn't make up for the change. Three years before I retired, our big open newsroom moved upstairs to a strange circular space surrounding a bank of elevators. The views were spectacular, but the shrinking newsroom, plunging morale and rounds of buyouts had squeezed any sense of excitement and adventure out of the business. When I left the newsroom for the last time, I cried, but not for the place -- it was for the loss of everything the paper had been and wasn't anymore.
Last month, Postmedia announced its Sun and Province operations will move to 29,000 square feet on the fourth floor of a building in a tech park near Renfrew and Broadway in east Vancouver. That space is down from the 44,000 square feet the papers now occupy, and way down from the 120,000 originally leased for the move downtown.
From the tallest building in the British Empire to a block-sized building on Granville to several floors on the Vancouver waterfront to one floor of a building far away from downtown Vancouver -- my home away from home has changed beyond recognition.