The west side of the 1300-block of Douglas Street, circa 1960. The intersection may have been a pedestrian scramble at the time. (City of Victoria Archives)

Pedestrian scrambles, underground tunnels and other downtown Victoria quirks

The area around the former Eaton’s Centre had some unique ideas

People are definitely scrambled following the announcment of a new X intersecton coming to Government and Wharf streets as part of the next phase of the bike lane network, but the concept isn’t new and not the strangest quirk in that block either.

An existing, albeit unmarked, scramble already stands at Government and View streets, and several readers have written in to describe a more established scramble that existed around the Eatons Centre –now The Bay Centre– in the late 1950s.

READ MORE: Hidden pedestrian scramble intersection already exists in Victoria

Multiple reports say a scramble crosswalk existed near the Eaton’s Centre, either at Douglas and Fort streets, or Douglas and Yates streets, though City officials have been unable to confirm which intersection it was.

The photo on the left show the Yates-Douglas intersection (west side) in 1960, versus the same intersection in 2017. It’s possible this intersection was a pedestrian scramble in the early 60’s (File contributed/ Victoria Archives, Google Maps)

City staff, however, can confirm that in the area there was a tunnel underneath Broad Street which connected the two Eaton’s buildings.

“There was an east/west tunnel for pedestrians that ran under the Broad Street right-of-way, part of the old Eaton’s development,” said Bill Eisenhauer, head of engagement, in an email. “When the Eaton’s site was redeveloped in the late 1980’s, the portion of Broad Street between View Street and Fort Street was closed to traffic, and consolidated into the development site bounded by Douglas, Fort, Government, and View (the current Bay Centre).”

ALSO READ: UVic Properties charts ambitious course for off-campus holdings on Broad Street

In the same neighbourhood is the Duck’s Building, at 1312 Broad Street, built by then MLA Simeon Duck in 1892. The building operated as a brothel in the early 1900s.

Around the same time, Douglas Street served as an artery of a trolley line that ran around the downtown core.

Douglas Street looking north in 1925. Tracks of a trolley line can be seen running north-south along Douglas Street. (City of Victoria Archives)

Know some more fun history facts about the downtown core? Send an email over to vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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